Perpetual

Continuing or enduring forever, everlasting.

Continuing without interruption, ceaseless.

Blooming almost continuously throughout the season or year.

The last definition of perpetual is definitely my favorite.   I love the idea of blooming continuously.  I don’t think flowers ever get tired of blooming.   They need to have dormant times in the winter to rest and store up for the next blooming season but that doesn’t mean they aren’t perpetually being themselves.

Being a pilgrim on the spiritual path also must have this same “perpetualness.”  There may be times of rest and dormancy but the pilgrim is always at heart a pilgrim.   Spiritual life must be always tended, perpetually renewed or the heart will wither.

A rose bush never declares itself finished.   It never says “I’ve done all the blooming I need to do, I’m good now, I think I will stop here”.  There is always a new branch sprouting, new leaves growing and flowers blooming, otherwise it runs the risk of the gardener digging it out or the flower lover overlooking it.    The same way the pilgrim can never declare “I’ve arrived”.   There are places to explore in each new land.  There are vistas yet beyond that.   New interior layers to uncover and constant changes in our world to push you forward.

Several years ago I read and reread a book that has been very helpful.   Halfway Up the Mountain: The Error of Premature Claims of Enlightenment by Mariana Caplan.  It describes the pitfalls on the path, and there are many.   When a seeker claims “I have arrived at the top of the Mountain” they will be surprised to see there is yet another range to be climbed.    So I am a perpetual pilgrim for as long as I’m alive.   If I’m still breathing then I need to keep blooming.

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The Knight of Wands

This is the first in a series on the Tarot.  I want the Tarot to be the guide, so instead of starting at the beginning, I will draw a card and let synchronicity chose the lesson.

The Knight of Wands is suspended in animation.   His feet are not on the ground.  He is trying to control his horse.   Is he to reign in his horse or is he to let it run?   It is not quite clear.   He does have his wand letting us know he has his talents and it is a living wand growing little leaves.

The Knight is definitely filled with adrenaline with that rearing horse under him, but, what is he to do?    Only he knows.   He represents someone who is in the middle of an exciting and new challenge.   Should he let his horse go and rush in or should he hold back a bit and see the lay of the land first.   What we do know is that his quest is about the eternal represented by the Pyramids in the background.   They are the symbol of the Eternal on Earth.     The Knight isn’t there yet.  He has lots to learn and adventures to be had but the Pyramids are definitely on his horizon.

So the Knight is youthful exuberance calling us to our next challenge, knowing he has the talents and the means to take on that challenge.  His fiery plume flowing from his helmet says that he has great desire for his quest.

When I see this card I have to think, what is next?  Where is the next challenge?  Do I need to rein it in and take a bit of a rest and see a few things play out first or should it take it “full speed ahead”?    That is the question I wrangle with.   Whatever the answer, the rearing of the horse is exciting and scary.   I’m trying some new things in my life right now, for instance, the newness of an empty nest with the girls away at college, and trying my hand at writing and finding my own voice.    It is all  a bit of a rush with very mixed emotions but that is what moves me forward to find new ways to use the skills that I have learn the last couple of decades.  I’m moving towards those Pyramids always keeping them in my sight.

Following the Threads

The Lady and The Unicorn

It is wonderful how the Universe mirrors our thoughts.   More than once in my life I would start having a phrase roll around my mind and darn if it doesn’t show up in something I read or find soon after.

A few years ago there were people in my life who were unhappy with some choices I was making and the direction my life was going. I couldn’t follow their advice for I had experiences I knew I needed to explore.   I kept thinking “but I must follow this thread and see where it goes”.   I have no idea why I was calling it a thread.   Of course my answer came just a few weeks later.

I went back to reread some of the wonderful books written by Robert A. Johnson, an interpreter of Carl Jung and a very wise man.   He has made Jung more accessible for modern life.   I highly recommend all of his books. (this might just be a thread for you)   I decided to read Johnson’s autobiography Balancing Heaven and Earth: A memoir of Visions, Dreams and Realizations An interesting play on Jung’s biography Memories, Dreams and Reflections.
Half way through the book I was astonished to find the following line:

 To possess the absolute certainty that one is doing the will of God requires coming into relationship with the slender threads.

 

I couldn’t believe it.  This quote confirmed what I had been thinking for weeks. I typed it up and stuck it on my refigerator for months.  It validated my idea that the path I was walking didn’t come complete with neon signs and GPS.   I was following something far more subtle and unknown.   So I take my own advice and keep following my threads.   Sometimes it is a line in a book, a chance remark by a friend, a book mentioned in a bibliography or random search on Google.   Whatever it is that catches my attention is a thread.   So I follow it.  I see where it leads and where it wants to be woven into my life.

My life tapestry is far from complete but the threads I follow are slowly weaving a lovely pattern.    I’m starting to see some flowers and birds take shape in a corner.   I hope that my life tapestry will someday resemble the enigmatic “Lady and the Unicorn” tapestries I saw in Paris in 2007 and it was definitely a pilgrimage. The room was electric with their powerful story of the five senses and finally the ultimate decision to follow the soul’s desire.   Those are the threads I want to weave with my life.

Jean Houston

I was so pleased to see that Oprah has interviewed Jean Houston on Super Soul Sunday on OWN.  Jean has been a major force in the consciousness movement for decades and wrote many books that were a great influence on me when I was first reading all I could find on mythology and new ways of seeing the world.

The Possible Human, Jump Time, A Mythic Life, Search for the Beloved are all classics.  Her latest book on the myth of the Wizard of Oz looks excellent.

For many years, Jean Houston taught a quarterly mystery school in Colorado to help women learn to live a mythic life and enter the “mysteries” of the human experience.    I was so happy to get a chance to go to one of her workshops and see her in person back in September 1997 in Nashville, Tennessee.

I’m usually not good with dates but that weekend stands out in my mind, not only was I getting to see Jean Houston but it was the day of Princess Diana’s funeral.   It was a mythic week, two great women had died within days of each other, Princess Diana and Mother Teresa.  The entire world was in mourning.   Jean helped me make sense of this epic world event and see the mythological significance.    She said the world’s heart chakra had been open by the passing of two iconic woman.

Just being in the presence of such a great teacher and thinker changes me and helps open up new pathways and experiences.   I can vividly remember her walking into the room, tall and stately, exuding great love and wisdom.

I now see my life and those of my fellow pilgrims’ as a mythic quest and the hero’s journey.    I find that I have much greater compassion and understanding for our experiences.   I don’t know what dragons we each have to slay or mountains we have to climb, but Jean pointed out in her interview with Oprah, “We are all in this together.”

The Sphinx

The Sphinx Stela

The Sphinx Stela

I love to travel and have an extensive list of ”must see” places.  It is easier to list where I’m not interested than where I do want to go.   I have a friend who asked me where I wanted to travel and my answer was “England, England and England”.    Egypt, on the other hand, was on the list but way down toward the bottom.   It seemed less accessible than places in Europe but most of all it flat intimidated me.   I thought I would put off going for 10 or 20 years.  The Universe had a different plan.

When I think of England I think of a warm and welcoming mother who invites you to pull up a chair and have a cup of tea by the fire, green and lush, flowers and sheep.  All my favorite things.   On the other hand Egypt seemed harsh and intense and loud and demanding and very foreign   .   Not the usual things I like to spend money on.    One late night I was talking to my brother and out of the blue he said to me “I’m sending you to Egypt”.    Well, I guess I’m going sooner than I planned.   Now it wasn’t my desire it was a summons.   I felt summoned to court to stand before the gods that I had long studied.    They don’t take no for an answer.

January of 2009 I took my first pilgrimage to Egypt and it was foreign alright.  Met by sand and noise and intense traffic where lanes are merely a suggestion, I got my first look at that sacred land and I was in LOVE.   I still stood up straight and minded my manners for my “hearing” but I knew that I wasn’t getting sentenced but rather instructed.   Each site had a different message for me, sometimes it was a phrase or an emotion or a song.

Every day of that fateful trip was intense.  Each day was its own lifetime but I knew that “for this day I was born”.   I said it every day.    There is much to tell and it will take a bit of time to get the story told so I’m going to start at the end of those two weeks.

The last stop was the Sphinx.   I had just been inside the Great Pyramid and the group had paid for private time at the paws of the Sphinx.  It was early morning and there were no crowds. The Antiquities Inspector let us through the gate for, normally, visitors are only allowed on the causeway above.   As I came to greet the Sphinx I saw that its open arms held a secret.  There is a stela right in front of the heart which tells the story of Prince Tuthmosis’ dream. The Sphinx promised him the throne in exchange for clearing the sand from its body.       I walked up to that stela and touched it.   My message from the Sphinx came flooding in my mind.  It was nothing I would have ever expected, a Bible verse, one I had not thought of for many years.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight.   Psalm 19:14

The message was a dedication, the opening ceremony for the next step in my life, a promise that my life would be dedicated to the sacred knowledge of Egypt.   I’ve now been back to Egypt twice more and will go many more times.  Each time has been special but that first experience can never be duplicated.   It was an ancient book I was allowed to open and turn to the first pages of the introduction.

Reasons to Visit Sacred Sites

The Osirion

The Osirion

1:  Sacred site are tools for awakening.  Places become holy by the power of individual spiritual practitioner who visits there.  That power “charges” the place and is enhanced by ceremonies performed there.  The residual energy at a sacred site can change anyone who visits the site.

This is the first of a list of nine reasons I have compiled to visit sacred sites.   I think that sacred sites of all kinds, temples, churches, natural sites, Native American sites, mountains, vortexes, personal power spots are all important to visit and honor.

Places do become holy as people visit and find peace and joy there.   Many of the most well known sacred sites around the world have been pilgrimage points for millennium.   The temples in Egypt may be “just” a few thousand years old but that spot has been used for many thousands of years before that.   The current temple is the latest layer.   Abydos in Egypt has its beautiful main temple but hidden behind is the mysterious Osirion.  A temple covered by time and just recently excavated.  It is a layer completely below the main temple.

Chartres Cathedral in France is also just the latest layer on that sacred spot.   It was a pagan temple first, layered on top of sacred underground springs.   Our ancestors knew these places that held a special charge when they are visited, stood upon, prayed at and given offerings.

When you go to these places yourself all you need to do is go with no expectation, a reverent mind and an open heart.   All we can give is ourselves, our love and our knowing.  Knowing that we have come to be more, care more, and love more.

You leave these spots filled with the vibration of the sacred. You may not be consciously aware of what you have taken in but your body knows, your heart knows and the Earth knows.  It is there to access for the rest of your life.   When you think of that place you are there and you and the site are blessed again over and over.

Along with an offering, I like to take my IPod filled with the music I love.   It can be any music that uplifts you and makes you happy.  Sometimes I just have it on random and let synchronicity choose my music.  Sometimes I have a specific piece that I know will lift me up and is appropriate for the place.   Sometimes I choose a piece that I don’t know well and let it be new along with the place I’m visiting.    I can enhance my visit with music and it links my experience with a particular piece.   When that song is played again I’m instently transported to that spot.   I have one particular song that came up randomly when I was sitting on top of Looking Glass Rock in North Carolina.  Ever after the minute I hear that piece I am once again sitting on that crystal mountain taking in its vibration.

Thanks to the magic of the Universe we never leave our sacred sites. Once you have stood on them and they have worked their magic you are forever changed.

Stonehenge

stonehenge

If you ask someone on the street to name a sacred site I’m sure that Stonehenge would be a common choice along with the Pyramids, the Vatican, or Westminster Abbey.

Stonehenge was at the top of my must see list.   I was dying to get there.   I didn’t go the first time I went to England.   That was a family vacation, still filled with sacred sites, but not the right time for Stonehenge.   I wanted to have my first encounter with one of the most famous spots on Earth to be special.  I had heard people say, “it’s not special, just some rocks, not as big as I expected”.   I was not deterred and I wanted my first glimpse to be sacred.

I convinced my husband Hamilton that we needed to go to England and Scotland.  It didn’t take much convincing because the “motherland” as we refer to it, was at the top of our list. “ Oh, and by the way Dear, you are going to drive.”   He took the challenge and armed with GPS, maps, atlas and me as navigator we survived our first roundabout.   I had planned the start of our trip around Stonehenge.   I made the special reservations to get inside, which you have to do before hours otherwise you just get to be behind the chain.   I wanted in.   We had a reservation for 8 AM as close a day to fall equinox 2009 as I could get.

The night before our reservation we stayed in Salisbury and rose early to head to the Salisbury Plain to get our first glimpse.  It was a beautiful sunrise making everything pink and gold.   The security guard let us in and along with about 20 other people I walked under the road toward the pilgrimage site I had longed to see for so many years.   I walked on ahead of everyone and for a one glorious minute I was the only person standing surrounded by those stones.  They welcomed me.  I took my time and slowly walked around greeting each stone in turn.  I marveled at their height, their beautiful mossy coats, their “ancientness”.

Birds were sitting on top of the stones calling in the early morning light.  I could not have been happier.  I just breathed in the beauty of the sun and meadows and those beautiful wise stone, wiser than I could ever be. What had the seen?  What did they know?   I plucked up a bit of the blowing lamb’s wool as a talisman and gave thanks with an offering.   I spent the last 10 minutes of my time there sitting in that circle of stones filling myself up with the glory of it all.   As my wise teacher says “we are in the glory now”.