Having a Foot in Both Worlds

By Rev. Amari Magdalena

Peace Dove at Chapel Rock

In the early 90’s when I was introduced to alternative spirituality and involved with consciousness groups in New Mexico and Atlanta GA, there was a fantastic quality to life.  Much discussion in the groups was geared to finding ways to escape the mundane, material world.  It got pretty crazy to the point of talk about going to the 39 Parallel to wait for “the ships” to pick us up and carry us away to the galactic command.

About this time the wonderfully satirical book ET101: The Cosmic Instruction Manual came out.  That is, I took the book to be satire and laughed my way through it.  After the adjective awesome got so overused in groups as to be meaningless, I began to have my doubts about the escape plan. Having been concurrently introduced to Earth-Based Spirituality, my grounding exceeded my gullibility in the exit strategies.

Today much of the farther out woo-woo of the New Age has been tempered down a bit. Many of us actually discovered ways to make this material experience more fun and rewarding.  We finally grokked the fact that Earth time can be quite wonderful.  Lots of us got on the pulpit of save the Earth by raising consciousness about climate change and human impact on the environment.  We started to appreciate and enjoy the earth experience. Some of us taught respect of all things in the manifest world.

Somewhere in that shift we also recognized the importance of not surrendering one set of explorations to the exclusion of another.  In better words, we figured out that having a foot in both worlds was the new definition of sanity.  We began to stop being seekers of a spiritual path and consolidated our beliefs to embrace the power of being finders.  That magically lead to a wonderful integration of both worlds and a lot more satisfaction and contentment with our particular lot in life.

One thing that I’ve observed, as an elder, is that reason prevails when we move from extremes on any given continuum to an integrated central.  This posture allows us to meet wide diversity in recognizing similarities and resolving our differences.  I suppose we might say that our mastery leads us to finding that bridge across extremes to a place where all worlds could meet in a deep peace.

With the disparate energies now present of growing violence and turmoil juxtaposed to an expanding spiritual awareness and consciousness, more than ever sanity prevails when we choose to have a foot in both worlds–material and ethereal.  We can recognize that path of humanity that is not working without too much judgment and choose to right our own thought and actions ship towards upliftment, expansion and harmony.

If ever there was a time for individual mastery of thought, word and deed, it is now.  As we are able to embrace the biblical “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil,” we can serve as wayshowers for others on the path of spiritual and material integration.  We can serve as example of a dance of life that has two feet, one in each world, moving gracefully with beautiful symmetry and rhythm.

As we are approaching a time of celebrating Freedom, it may also be a wonderful period to free ourselves from enslavement to outdated thinking and collective fear/negativity that prevails in our commercial media.  When the proverbial rockets red blare in sky-filled demonstrations, let us see the sparks as new ideas for creating a reality in which personal freedom and collective responsibility reign supreme as we place one foot firmly in each of our magnificent worlds.

Peace be.

Summer Solstice

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Re-entering The Void at Summer Solstice

by Amari Magdalena

Polarities of their nature bespeak irony.  And so it is with our seasonal celebrations.  At the “High Noon” of summer light as we extol the virtues of the maximum hours of daylight, we turn the corner into the void and begin the process of contraction.    From Winter Solstice to Summer Solstice we are in a phase of expansion, seeding and growing our hopes and dreams.  From June 21st until December 21st we begin to draw our energies within, ever so slowly to celebrate harvests and then release.

Both our sun and moon express four distinct phases, which parallel one another nicely.  While the moon completes each phase in 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes, the sun’s phases are more protracted taking our calendar year to complete.  In earth-based traditions throughout the world sun and moon celebrations served as calendars or markers for the passage of time.

June 21st decrees the celebration of the North (the polar opposite of the South that we are experiencing).  Along with the summer solstice, it is also near Father’s day marking the maximum influence of the principal we know as masculine.  While our Spring and Fall Equinox represent balance, the solstices symbolize extreme.  Solstices are more “Tonal” (tonal being ordinary reality); equinox’ are “Nagual” (extraordinary with the availability of magic).  The summer solstice then is a time of excessive immersion into the material world (Tonal).

Given the extremes and the irony of our celebration of the North in summer and the South in winter, both celebrations are about light; more of it and less of it.  As we acknowledge the longest day of the year with the highest point of the sun, let us remember to take advantage of all that is revealed in the blazing light.

Summer Solstice in ancient times was a daylong celebration and observation in northern most climes was 24-hours and 12-hours in the lower latitudes.  In total light a circle was set with many burning candles lit.  A large bonfire was constructed nearby.  Singing, dancing, chanting and/or drumming began.  Vigilance was kept throughout the night until dawn, when the candles and fires were extinguished.

The summer solstice may then be a time to give oneself permission to totally immerse into the masculine principal yet acknowledging the winter solstice conception that led to this luxurious fertility.  Set your ceremonial circle with objects of light and representation of the golden, orange, red colors of the sun’s brilliance.  Acknowledge fire for its power of transformation.  Strew the altar with seasonal flowers and ripening berries.  Feast and surrender to the fire within.  Engage in fire ceremonies.  Trance dance.  Tone.  Make joyful noises with percussion and flute.  Invoke Archangel Michael or the Celtic god Lugh (pronounced Looch), god of light, warmth and inspiration.  Sing the praises of the sun in all its representations including the sunship of the Christ energies.  And slowly but surely, put out each candle in tribute to the returning darkness and the great mystery of the void.  Honor this phase of growth, trust and love and “Coming Into Being.”

 

Being on Hold

 

 

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by Rev. Amari Magdalena

We’ve all experienced being on hold.  Terminal “push this push that” to get a real person phone calls can be unnerving. Waiting for an appointment with a doctor.  Standing in long lines anywhere. Awaiting a visitor or event that is not on schedule.  We are presented with myriad ways of what we might deem wastes of our previous time that sorely test our patience.

Usually, I will get busy doing something else until the person or event resolves itself.  Often though I’m hung up ostensibly ‘on call’ for business.  It feels like “Waiting for Godot” the famous play on the theme of unresolved waiting for an imaginary person who is not coming; as life flashes by.

I might compare this to the waxing and waning natural rhythms of our celestial bodies the sun and moon.  In waxing periods, we may experience bursts of energy. In waning cycles, we may reach a place I call “the betweens.”  In those times of little overt happenings, we may feel that not as much is working in our lives.  Perhaps our frustration levels rise.  We might feel these times are a waste.

For me, this is when I move into “Mental Traveler” mode or daydream.  If I can remove myself from the frustration of waiting, I can enjoy a whole canopy of imaginings in my mind.  It’s perhaps a little active dreaming that I do to keep my mind active and reduce the overt negative judgment of being on hold.  In shamanism we might call it journeying though most likely it is a middle world journey with more conscious awareness than the usual other world journeys.

However, we navigate being on hold, our mental state will remain a lot more positive if we develop strategies for doing something else while we wait–mentally or physically.  Time here on the earth plane is indeed precious.  It is important for our well-being that we appreciate the gift.  Thus alternative ways of relating to the betweens can create a win/win situation for us so that we are able to feel good about such times.

Queuing up a beautiful landscape travel or meditation video may be one successful strategy if the hold time is related to a computer.  Playing some music on our headphones may be a good hold strategy for phone calls rather than listening to jarring and/or repetitive hold music.  Changing our visual focus to the outdoors may be useful as the horizon tends to, for me, hold the promise of what is around the next bend or curve of life.  Whatever helps with even breathing and less stress breath-holding and rising anger, can make our lives feel so much clearer in the moments.

And, last resort, whatever is keeping us on hold for more than a reasonable time, we can hang up or just go out and enjoy our lives.  For those people who tend to hang us up, going out and enjoying our lives may give them an important lesson in respect for the time of others.

Release the holds that you can and improve your passages of time with the ones that require your time to get something important accomplished. Say goodbye to those persons or situations that unnecessarily detain, confine and restrain your energy.  If you can’t end the relationship, create appropriate boundaries. However, you find your way to coping with being on hold, choose to set yourself free.  We’ve one wondrous life, for sure.  Enjoy it and find a bright spot to focus on when you find yourself next on hold!

This is the Day!

Water and Light

By Rev. Amari Magdalena

“This is the Day,” Graham Dashwood declares in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel as he realizes that he’s through leading a life whose end game is not one he wishes to play.  Do you ever feel like you have a starring role in someone else’s life?  Are you aware that you are living roles of expectations that family, friends, lovers, employers and societal edicts have dictated? Have you wondered where you, your authentic self, has disappeared to?

We are living in fast moving and often precarious times.  Change is upon us with increasing demands on our mental, physical and emotional natures.  Many of us have had to wear a lot of hats to meet the demands of our different roles.  Perhaps we’ve felt like quick change artists in a play with many cumbersome costumes.  More likely a bit of us may have been lost along the way. We have mastered doing at the expense of being.

Yet some internal message we are receiving in the deep recesses of our minds, speaks to us. Its message may be soft or very loud. Basically it may be asking “where is my spirit.”  Where is that essential me?  Am I anywhere near fulfilling my dreams and living in concert with the real me? Will I just go on in over-drive until this little vinette I call my life is over?

When we get caught up in the doings of life, we often loose the magic that it truly represents. We are born because we chose to incarnate, to acquire this flesh and blood body.  Our life script is influenced by our early caregivers and takers and a plan for spiritual growth that is perhaps beyond our human imagining.  Each of us has a specific purpose in being here. Our soul wishes that we will realize our purpose and accomplish our mission. In between our birth and death, we are gifted time and experiences towards that end.

Though it may not always be apparent I believe we are actually here to enjoy this ride. Oh, maybe not every day, though we might choose that attitude.  Certainly we are not incarnate to be punished or ‘do time’ for our supposed past life regressions.  I feel we are here to have the full body experience in every possible way.  Along the way, hopefully we are also staying in tune with our eternal spirit and fostering its growth.

What I do know to be true, this nearly three quarters of a century down life’s highway, is that each day is a gift.  When we choose to be more present in the moment, we can experience gratitude for this wondrous gift; we can choose to life actively, magnificently, and dynamically. No matter the external circumstances, tugs and pulls, we can each declare, “today is the day!” We can embrace the day and surrender living the lives others dictate for us.  In our declaration, we can find our authentic self who knows how we can fulfill our dreams with whatever time is afforded us.

Perhaps you are saying to yourself, sure it’s that easy, not!  She doesn’t know the stresses I’m under or understand my circumstances.  Who is she to say this?

What I will share with you is that I’ve been through the hell of life.  I’ve been at the edge of giving up.  At 47 I was so close to early exit that each day was precarious.  One day in rainy, cloudy, dark Seattle the sun shown.  I was out laying in the sun.  The warmth on my body caused me to totally relax.  I heard birds joyfully singing.  In that very moment, I came to a realization that I could capture more moments like that and turn my life around. I could choose heaven on earth.  That realization moved my life towards embracing each day and following my dreams.

What I wish for each of you reading this, is a moment in which you make an active choice to embrace life and declare, “This is the Day”!  That you quit living your life for and through others and recognize that at the end of your life hopefully you lived your life for you.  Trust me, others will appreciate that much more than you losing your special Divine Spark to please them. And, you will lead a life that you enjoy and are grateful for.

“You think this is just another day in your life. It’s not just another day. It’s the one day that’s given to you today. It’s given to you. It’s a gift. It’s the only gift that you have right now and the only appropriate response is gratefulness.”  Louie Schwartzberger

 

Loss and Grief

by Rev. Amari Magdalena

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A recent program that I listened to on NPR discussed the impact of loss and grief on the airplane crash victim’s families.  It got me thinking about all of the large and small losses, and resultant grief, that we each experience on this physical plane over a lifetime.  Some of our losses we more easily recover from under the old adage, “live and learn.”  The big ones may take a lot more time and for those we may find acceptance on some levels yet may not ever fully recover in the sense of being the same person we were before the loss.

Years ago I wrote in a poem, “Or would the moment die its own fleeting death anyway …As we are living and dying in moments.”  This was not meant to be fatalistic rather a recognition that there are all kinds of deaths that we come to cope with over our time on this Earth; each in our own way. The path to coping and acceptance are as varied as the causes or conditions of the deaths.

There were two times in my life that I’ve felt overwhelming grief at death.  One was the year that Martin Luther King, my cousin Patsy and Bobby Kennedy died in April, May and June correspondingly.  I could not fathom such grief at loss of leadership and a young, beautiful cousin. It took a good year to find some peace with their individual and collective passing.

The other time was even more egregious.  Within a period of three years, I lost a 3-year-old grandson, a 52-year-old sister and a 17-year-old nephew.  I’d had a premonition that major grief was about to descend several weeks before the first death; thankfully I was given no idea whatsoever what was to come. And, the grief wasn’t over I sensed after our beautiful Diego was gone.  What a roll-a-coaster ride those short years were.

Each of us must find a path through our grief and losses. What saved me with the latter griefs ultimately was the grounding that daily sustains me through earth-based practices and the medicine wheel of life. I feel extremely fortunate that I found this path as it has sustained me as no other in my lifetime.

In working with my personal grief, and others in my family and pastoral counseling, I’ve seen that there is no formula or time frame for processing grief.  The ‘get over it’ mentality that so very many people espouse to avoid deep feelings, just doesn’t work.  The degree of loss includes: the circumstance of the loss; the people or loved pets involved; the place one is in their life; the supportive environment or lack thereof; the time in life; etc.

For some people, counseling is effective; for others grief support groups.  Others may take solace in their religious or spiritual practices. I believe there is no right way.  Each of us, with some support, or help, can find a pathway that works.

I’m also struck by what I said in the poem, we are living and dying in moments.  That knowledge, for me, means that I want to embrace my life in the now with appreciation for each day and the people who are now in my life.  It also means that I can treasure what is presented to me today without worrying about what might be taken away tomorrow or what was taken in the past.

Dia de los Muertos ceremonies are a wondrous way to celebrate our friends and family who’ve stepped through the veil.  At that time when the veils are thinnest between the material and ethereal worlds, we can bring into our presence those loved ones and celebrate them.  At other times, memories and pictures help us keep a loving connection with our beloveds.

Birth, life and death are the triumvirate we all live with.  Being gentle with ourselves, allowing grief it’s due, and coming to feel thankful for whatever time is allotted us and our dear ones, can move us a long way to acceptance and appreciation for the fragility of this wondrous play, Life.  The key is living and loving.