Mountain Music

himalayas-stupa-nepalStupa in Nepal

When the Bowen sisters practiced the violin around the house they played Mozart, Bach and Vivaldi. Since we live in Appalachia, they were always asked to perform fiddle tunes.  The ‘fiddlin’ Bowen sisters played many local gigs for charity events, flag pole raisings, nursing homes and anywhere else they were asked.   They put on a nice show playing music that is now universally recognized like Amazing Grace, Ashoken Farewell and Orange Blossom Special.

On Christmas Day I watched a documentary called “Mountain Music Project”.   These same fiddle tunes my daughters played seemed to be even more universal than I realized.   A fiddler from Virginia visited Nepal and noticed that uncanny similarities between his tunes and those of the local mountain people.   He went back to Nepal with a translator and started investigating the musicians high in the Himalayan Mountains.   These musicians played a type of four string instrument with a bow they make from a log, goat skin and tennis racquet string; about the size of a violin, but held like a cello.   The tunes and singing along with the stories of these mountain people and their struggles for survival mirror those of Appalachia.  Maybe these mountain ranges on opposite sides of the world are connected.

I haven’t been to Tibet and Nepal, but last May Tibet and Nepal came to me when I went to a lecture at my local library by  Ven. Lama Norhla Rinpoche.   More than 200 hundred people came to hear about  Lama Norhla’s escape from the Chinese invasion of  Tibet when he was a young monk.   His journey to safety was long and dangerous, and was nearly caught by the Chinese before finding refuge in Nepal and then India.   He said the first time he saw the Great Smoky Mountains a few years ago he was instantly reminded of his first glimpse of the Himalayas during that escape over 50 years before.      Because of this connection, Lama Norhla has established a small retreat center on border of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and is building a Stupa (a sacred shrine) on this border to help stabilize the weather patterns and heal the land from the Civil War and Indian Removal.

There is a connection between these two great mountain ranges, and I love it when I can make these connections between opposite sides of the world letting us see that the human experience is universal. We all have so much to learn from each other.   Retreat Center and Stupa in East Tennessee  Lama Norhla’s Monestary in New York

The Mountain Music Project:   A Musical Odyssey from Appalachia to Himalaya


Seven of Swords


Conflicts are so prevalent in everyday life that we seem to keep ourselves in constant chaos.   Politics and media feed on conflict and the air is thick with constant opposing ideas.   Swords in the Tarot represent these conflicts and how we need to handle them in our lives.

The Seven of Swords is about sorting out conflicts and choosing which ones need to be worked out and which ones can be left.   The man in the picture has two swords in his right hand and three swords in his left.   There are two swords sticking in the ground with a camp of tents in the background.   He is looking back at the camp to see if anyone sees him sneaking off, trying to remove these conflicts before anyone catches him, like a covert operation.   Why does he need to do this?  Why isn’t he confronting the conflicts?

This card says that not all conflicts need to be confronted.  Sneak off and ignore them.   They are minor and unimportant so don’t make a “mountain out of a mole hill.”   Such conflicts are minor irritations such as laundry on the floor, a dirty dish in the sink, a thoughtless comment or rude driver.   Don’t be drawn into something that really is meaningless or just thoughtless.   We are all guilty of thoughtless acts or words.

There are other conflicts that need to carefully defuse not necessarily confronted.   By sneaking off with these conflicts the man has removed the danger of a potential attack.   Is there away to change a situation or at least change your attitude so conflict doesn’t get started?    With careful planning conflicts won’t get started.  For instance when family or friends are chronically late just plan to start without them.   Or an opinionated relative just wants to make sure everyone knows the best way, just nod and move on.   I have stopped wishing for a change; instead I limit my time with certain people, and don’t have any expectations. It is expectations of others behavior that upsets us and when we lose those expectations then our lives become more peaceful.

When this card shows up in a reading look to defuse or ignore potential conflicts rather than engage in the battle.  Just let it go and move on.

Return of the Light

the four directions

Blue Lotus, Egypt, Winter Solstice 2012

What a wonderful day. This long anticipated date has arrived with new energies and new opportunities. My husband and I went to my favorite place to see the sunrise over the Great Smoky Mountains. The cloud cover was low and only a sliver of pink let us know that the sun was above the horizon, the layers of these ancient mountains barely visible.

The new Light of the solstice sun is connecting the sacred lands around the world, from my ancient mountains here in Tennessee to the Andes in Peru, Himalayans in Tibet, and Mt Sinai in Egypt, awakening the ancient wisdom of these places and our ancestors.

Today is a wonderful day because for the first time in 2000 years the sacred Blue Lotus has returned to Egypt, gently floating in sacred Nile water. In every temple are hieroglyphs of this magnificent ancient flower. The Blue Lotus is one of the missing keys to the spiritual knowledge of ancient Egypt. When the Greeks took over Egypt 2000 years ago they systematically destroyed the lotus, and the power of the Egyptian religion. Now the Blue Lotus is back hold the vibration of the new Light in the world.

It is a wonderful day for the Spirit of Osiris has returned to Egypt. I was with my beloved teacher Page on Wednesday and she said twenty years ago her spirit guide told her that the “Spirit of Osiris” would return. She expected it to be a man, maybe the new president but that doesn’t seem to be the case. As she was talking we both realized it was the Blue Lotus that holds the Spirit of Osiris, life, death, resurrection and re-membering. Osiris is about resurrection as Isis “re-membered” him by finding his body all over Egypt and putting him back together so they could create the golden child Horus.

At winter solstice we are celebrating the birth of the golden Christ Child. In a few months near the spring equinox we will be celebrating the resurrection of that same Golden Child. This theme of birth and resurrection is critical to the evolution of humanity returning to the Golden Age. The Blue Lotus holds this energy of birth and resurrection and remembering.

The people responsible for bringing the Blue Lotus back to Egypt have had their own experiences of birth, crucifixion and resurrection in the process of re-membering the energies of Egypt. Modern incarnations of the ancient priests and priestesses, they nurtured the Blue Lotus against great odds so the vibration can once again ring through the land. On this day the Sacred Blue Lotus sings “I am back in Egypt and I Remember”.

This is a very special and symbolic day on our planet. The Light has returned, and the Blue Lotus is once again singing the song of Love.

lotus pond

Lotus Choir,  Winter Solstice 2012

Reasons to Visit Sacred Sites #4


4: Sacred sites are designed for use at equinoxes and solstices and specific dates. They are used to maximize the energies of these times.

Stonehenge still holds many mysteries but we do know the astronomical alignments of this great sacred site. The stones of Stonehenge were set for an exact alignment of the winter and summer solstice sunrises. When the sun rises on the solstice, not only is there an alignment the indicated end of the solar year but also this alignment and rays of the sun activated the site to a higher level of energy.

Chichen Itza Mexico has interesting phenomena on the spring and fall equinoxes. On the afternoon of those days the sun cast a shadow down the side of the pyramid that resembles an undulating snake. A link to the great god Quetzalcoatl? This is only during that particular alignment and not other days.

The temple of Abu Simbel in Egypt is aligned so the sun on Oct 21 and Feb 21, dates that correspond with the Pharaoh’s birthday and coronation, shines through this long temple (over 70 feet) and illuminates the two of the three gods in the Holy of Holies. The god of the underworld, Ptah, is positioned so that he doesn’t get illuminated. How did they ever calculate that? When the temple was moved up the hill before Lake Nasser was flooded in the 1960’s the engineers worked to keep this same alignment.

At the Great Serpent Mound, a 1348 foot long effigy mound in southern Ohio, the head of the serpent is aligned to the summer solstice and the coils of the body point to the solstice and equinox sunrises and sunsets as well as lunar alignments. The tail is aligned to true North.

The knowledge of these stellar, solar and lunar alignments not only act as a calendar but bring powerful energy from the sun, moon or stars allowing the power and wisdom of these alignments more accessible. Like being under a spot light where the heat and light are powerful but move just a few feet and there is just a light on the floor.

Now it is December 2012 and our entire Earth in a special alignment. Not only are we at the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, but our sun rises in the great rift of the Milky Way galaxy. This cosmic alignment that happens only 26.000 years, gives us more access to the power and light of the great central sun of our galaxy.


I’m so excited that it is December 2012 that I decided to celebrate 21 days of Egypt from December 1 to Winter Solstice December 21. I was so pleased when the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow and The Metropolitan Opera in New York decided to join me in honoring Egypt.

On December 2 the famous Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow simulcast live to theaters around the world a new production of The Pharaoh’s Daughter. An obscure ballet about Egypt, the Bolshoi is the only company dancing this classic ballet. I was delighted with the unimaginably incongruent combination of classic French ballet and ancient Egypt, like Swan Lake danced in King Tut’s tomb. I loved it because I believe tutus are appropriate any time, any place, any millennium. When the Princess fell into the Nile and met up with Neptune, (ooops wrong country, wrong god) I was enchanted. The entire afternoon I was immersed in total joy and beauty.

The Metropolitan Opera in New York, wanting to participate in the grand celebration, also simulcast live on radio and in theaters the magnificent Egyptian opera Aida on December 15. I couldn’t have wished for more. Verdi’s masterpiece was premiered in Cairo in 1871 and has become one of the most beloved operas. Every moment is beautiful, from the love duets to the famous triumphal march. It is a timeless story of love, rejection, betrayal, heroism and pageantry all with spectacular music, bringing together hundreds of the world’s best musicians, singers, costume designers and stagers. Opera is the best of all art forms coming together to tell the timeless truths of the human experience.

A few years ago I was sitting in the lobby of the Meridian hotel in Egypt when a half dozen porters and waiters came rushing to the front door, hurriedly putting on their ancient Egyptian attire and pulling out trumpets. Several large buses of tourists had arrived and this little ensemble was there to greet them with the great Triumphal March from Aida. Several rounds of the chorus later, all the tourists were in the lobby and the porters went back to carrying bags. At the Luxor home of Howard Carter, who discovered King Tut’s tomb, there was an old wind-up phonograph; under it was a hundred year old copy of Aida. I can just imagine the tired archeologist sitting outside with a cool drink after a hard day’s work listing to the opera for comfort and inspiration.

When I was sitting in the theater watching these two celebrations of all things Egypt, I kept thinking about what an amazing world we live in. I’m sitting in Knoxville, Tennessee but also on stage of the Bolshoi in Moscow, and the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Through the magic of satellites in orbit I’m in two places at once on different sides of the earth and immersed in the energy of ancient Egypt, and during the intermissions texting friends in different states enjoying the same experience. We are teleporting and time traveling and didn’t even realize it.

St. Teresa of Avila

St Terese

Remember, if you want to make progress on the path and ascend to the places you have longed for, the important thing is not to think much but to love much, and so to do whatever awakens you to love.  —- St. Teresa of Avila

Throughout history even during the darkest times there were always people who knew, who remembered, souls who still retained the thread to “oneness”. We call them mystics.    St. Teresa of Avila was a bright candle shining in a very dark time.  Born in 1515, life was brutal and cold and short.   The Church had a strong hold on the people and the knowledge of the Egyptians and Greeks was long forgotten.   The knowledge of other realms still remained in a few brave souls holding the light until more were able to remember.

Teresa’s wisdom is still as deep and beautiful today as it was 500 years ago.  She wrote the Interior Castle, a classic mystical work on the living soul.   At a time when physical survival was an overwhelming burden, Teresa turned to the interior world of spiritual growth.   Her mystical union with God was so great that she had visions during which she levitated.   She spent her life writing and reforming the Carmelite convents in Spain.

Along with other mystics, such as Meister Eckhart, St. Francis of Assisi, Julian of Norwich, and John of the Cross, Teresa kept walking the very faint path to mystical union with God that was nearly forgotten.    The writings of these great masters still shine a light that is so important today.

In 2001 I spent a couple of hours in Avila Spain, Teresa’s home, north of Madrid.   I was on a violin tour of Spain with my daughters and this small town was one of the stops.   I wish I had known more about St. Teresa at the time but I do have a vivid memory of standing in the Cathedral at her shrine.   It was Corpus Christi day, a feast day commemorating the Body of Christ.   There were banners through the main street and a procession to the Cathedral.   The little girls who had taken their first communion that year wore their fancy white communion dresses for the procession.   It was a magical day, everything thing seemed to glow, the blue sky, white dresses, the Cathedral.

A favorite book that I’ve returned to over and over the last few years is an interpretation of Teresa’s famous Interior Castle.   Entering the Castle by Caroline Myss brings Teresa’s visions and wisdom to life for modern seekers.   It is a manual for the exploration on the interior life.   I keep it near me and read it often to remind me what I need to know and be. As I grow, there are always new room and passage ways to explore in this private castle.   Bless the medieval mystics who held the Light for us so we would not lose the way.

Why Egypt?


If you ask anyone under 25 what they know about Egypt they will tell you about the animated film “Prince of Egypt”, a fanciful version of the Moses story.   If you ask an older generation they would likely talk about King Tut and the golden treasures or break out in the fun Steve Martin song.   Someone else will talk about Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra.   These are the versions of Egypt that are part of our mainstream culture.

The news media has also been busy in Egypt the last two years as Egyptian people are choosing to try new ways of government and making unending adjustments in that process.

If you ask me about Egypt I will sigh deeply with a look of rapture on my face, for I’m in love.    I wasn’t fascinated with Egypt as a child but as an adult started studying the mythology and religion of ancient Egypt.   I have since learned more of the history of the amazing land.   I have traveled to Egypt three times and each trip was epic and life changing.   A friend questioned my third trip, “the rocks haven’t moved since last year!”   Yes but I have and I must uncover the next layer of experience.  As I change and grow, more of the wisdom of Egypt is available to me.

My friend Mary, an Egyptologist, says that Egypt is “the Alpha and Omega”   It holds the memory of before we can remember and it holds the keys to the next chapter in our human existence as we move to the Age of Aquarius

During the last two thousand years while Egypt was lost to the western world and covered over by the sands of time, those stories and mysteries came to the West in the form of the Arthurian Legends.   The stories of Camelot and Avalon are the most recent incarnations and are the sacred myths and legends of our modern world.   Notice that those legends are everywhere in our movies and books, even the White House has been referred to as Camelot.  England held the next stage of the Light in our world with cathedrals, stone circles, holy wells and our current mysterious crop circles.

So you have to pardon me as I go on and on about Egypt and England for they have captured my heart.    I choose to see the spiritual dimensions of our beautiful earth not the fearful version our media wants us to see.     I want a reality that holds magic and promise, wisdom and love.  These things are all around if you know how to see them.   So join me as we look through the realities that are presented to us and uncover a new reality.