The Hero Cycle as Rites of Passage

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The Return is a significant stage of achievement in a Hero Cycle adventure, marking the hero as ‘bringing home’ the strengths and wisdom s/he has attained through facing life’s arduous challenges and fulfilling their Quest. As the Hero returns, s/he benefits all Life and the family and community s/he serves more selflessly after having individuated as a mature, dynamic Self.

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But there is more to the story. Keep in mind that the Hero Cycle represents the mythic structure of a Rites of Passage ordeal which the individual (or group) undergoes to bring about a transformation of his/her/their Identity or to rebalance a situation tending toward decline. The three phases of a complete Rites of Passage cycle include rites of Separation, Transition, and Reintegration. These three universal phases of Rites of Passage cycles are mirrored in the three primary stages of a Hero Cycle adventure: Departure, Fulfillment, and Return.

The Return phase of a Hero’s Adventure involves a Reintegration back into the web of relations, roles, and aspirations of the hero’s Home Base; yet the hero returns to bring bounty to the Whole from having achieved individuation as a powerful, more loving and self-actualizing Self.

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images are from pixabay.com

Reintegration means rejoining a community you had departed from in order to gain maturity and to refine your talents. You rejoin this community with a higher order of Identity, from which you can better serve the growth potentials of the Whole.

Thus when Dorothy returns to Oz as a Self-integrated, mature Person, somehow we know that Toto is going to be okay. Dorothy brings back with her the integrated strengths of Courage, Heart, and Wisdom that she had lacked, and in this more aware, empowered Self she expresses the ultimate realization:

“There’s No Place Like Home!”

Better Ending Tales of Return

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Here’s a fun practice for this month’s theme of The Return (the eleventh stage of the Hero Cycle as we are framing it this year on the blog site):

Think of a film (or a novel, or myth) begging for a sequel that has not yet been produced. Write a synopsis of the sequel as you would wish it to be!

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One Better Endings movie-sequel tale I have in mind (which will appear in my book to follow Your Life Path, to be called Better Endings), is a sequel for the film Close Encounters.  I call the sequel “Mr. Neary Returns.”  What has Roy learned while away as an earthly ambassador with the alien race that whisked him off into the cosmos at the end of the first film? And what has happened to the earth Roy knew when he departed?

Roy returns, having hardly aged at all, to an earth in great peril of global nuclear annihilation.  He brings a wisdom based on a history of interplanetary species that have survived this great test, while most have failed.  He becomes a global ambassador for open dialogue and forgiveness, recommending a global federation that empowers cultural pluralism for the good of the whole.

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images are gratefully from pixabay.com

Now, writing Better Endings stories is part of a larger opportunity for “revisionist” envisioning generally.  The same “better ending” principle you can use to rewrite fiction or history you can also apply to reflecting on episodes or themes from your own life! (That will be the basis of the book to come…)

For now then, write a Better Endings movie or novel sequel. Try it! Let me know if you would like to share your story!

Happily Ever After

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Certainly one of the greatest elixirs is Happiness. After attaining our worthy goal, we achieve a degree of happiness which we can carry forward with us into the next ordeal and adventure. Probably most people would claim greater happiness—for themselves and for others—as a measure of success, whatever their endeavor.

What makes you happy in the deepest sense? I mean, not only in the moment but long-term? A child (or a pet’s) smiling face (or their playfully wagging tail or purr), a beautiful mountainscape or an Oceanside sunset: these bring a valuable though transitory happiness. They warm the heart and bring a smile. They reveal, I would say, a deeper state of intrinsic happiness. They reveal a harmony of Nature, an innocence of Spirit; breaths of fresh air, a tonic to the Soul!

Still, how can you expand your condition of happiness beyond the fleeting moment?

So I ask again, what could make you Happy in the grandest sense? Is it your job? (Stay then! Take it as far as you can!) Or your relationship(s)? Then Bravo/a to you! Or maybe it is your chosen environment, where you experience At Oneness with the All One? (More cosmic, loving power to you!!!)

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For many people, enduring happiness is yet an elusive goal. Achieving their ultimate happiness shall be a result of fulfilling their most ardent endeavors (or, it may be found in the very practice of those endeavors themselves). Many will gain their enduring happiness by serving others and/or producing good works; by fulfilling, that is, their sense of Purpose and their Mission for this life.

So now, what is your Purpose; what can you claim as your Life Mission?

As a personal example, my life mission inflects on several levels. I have a spiritual Mission, which I do not feel the need to share. On a practical level, I have always sought, in one form or another, to serve the Whole…that is, to embrace and express my own inherent wholeness as well as to serve however I can the greater Whole of the community, family, fencing team (e.g.), and the world in which I live. Like many, I have always strived to make a positive contribution—whether through teaching, sharing in general, through responsible service, or through writing/publishing.

“What difference does it make?”

“It doesn’t matter!”

These were my calls in the wilderness to God, my deep laments through at least the first five decades of this life. So then, I would try harder, work more.

Until, gradually, as on cats’ feet, the Process itself—e.g. of communicating, teaching, contemplating, writing, living—has become fruitful in itself, in the moment of Doing, Being, or Knowing.  I find that I am still very goal-oriented, yet now my goal and the process I engage with to fulfill the goal have merged as one focus; see?

With this transformational shift from a ‘product/goal’ to a ‘process’-oriented mindset, now that I check in with my Self, Happiness has set in!

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images are from pixabay.com

This is not to presume that I am always “happy” in the glib/ surface sense. That has never been my goal. Actually I can sometimes let things bother me now just as much if not more than ever before. This comes from my passion for advancing what is in process. Disruptions or interruptions of this forward arching flow can set me back, but only long enough overall now until I can accept and absorb the lesson (for there is always a lesson!), and move on.

What Is Your Life Mission?

My upcoming book that is announced in the right panel of this blog, Your Life Path, is my best contribution so far to serve the Whole. This book provides a complete/ original Life Path Mapping process with its chapter-ending self-discovery Tools. I have developed and practiced this approach over the last fifteen years, through interview research, analysis of results, producing a previous academic book on the subject, and—more importantly—through developing the embedded self-help Toolkit from applying the mapping and reflection process with large classes of students and with many individuals, as a “life path mapping” coaching approach.  It has been helpful for many and even deeply transformative for some.

The Your Life Path Tools can guide you gradually yet gently to review your past, to reconsider your present with regard to how you have reached where you are in life now; then to explore your values, your inner conflicts and challenges (from an archetypal psychological  perspective), and to reveal your deepest, most integrative goals. It leads you to express and embrace your Life Mission; then to claim your Life Dream and plan a fulfilling future course, beginning here and now, to live into the life of your dreams!

I do invite you to check out this book if it may serve you. You could pre-order using the url address in the right panel, either through Amazon (as a book or ebook), Barnes & Noble, or Indies. I will be offering a preview webinar series on Life Path Mapping by December (I will post about that as it becomes available).

And so, wherever your life path leads you to:

Go For It!

A Te Sante!

Be Happy!

Live Your Dream, Now!

I always welcome YOUR Comments and Stories.

The Elixir of Musical Harmony

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On Fridays I am doing a “negativity fast.”  That means that any critical thought or negative emotion that enters my mind, I wash it away or dissolve it immediately, focusing instead on only neutral or positive thoughts and experiences.  Because I have made a conscious choice to do this fast, it works wonderfully!

The goal of this fast is to help me maintain a greater harmony in life overall. I tend to be fairly overwhelmed at this stage as I am teaching several extra classes to prepare for retirement and relocation, plus I have a book release coming up that I need to shepherd by preparing for a book event tour.  With all that in addition to health matters requiring daily maintenance, I find my nerves are often somewhat frayed. All these changes looming on the horizon are unsettling to my introspective, balance and security seeking Cancerian nature!

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One great elixir that helps me achieve a greater harmony and positive acceptance of what I can do to press forward day by day is music.  Thank heaven for Pandora as a musical companion while working!

Music weaves harmonies that can lift, inspire, soothe and encourage us to face our challenges with grace instead of acrimony.  Such a gift!

My love of musical companionship pervades my life history; does it yours too? My mother would play piano on many an afternoon while her five children did homework or played at home. “Moonlight Sonata” was one of her favorites and so it is one of mine always.  I played violin in several orchestras and took private lessons for many years. My sister Lee and I spent countless evenings during high school years talking and playing cards in her room while listening to Simon & Garfunkle, the Beatles and other popular songsters of the 60’s and 70’s. Lee’s favorites were “MacArthur’s Park” and “Delilah”; some of my favorites then were “Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding, “King of the Road,” “In My Life” by the Beatles, and “Imagine.” Lee and I both loved, and still do, Ravel’s “Bolero.”

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images are gratefully from pixabay.com

A musical Life Map can be revealing of the trends and focus of your life over time.  What are you listening to now compared to during earlier life stages? I listen more now, in my sixties, to melodious Classical music and to Celtic artists, who seem more in touch with harmonies of place and family rather than romance or intrigue.  Yet I still enjoy most of the music I have always enjoyed.  Music weaves the various stages and experiences of life together as a unified whole!

Here for your enjoyment then, a song that bares my Soul, In My Life :

I welcome YOUR Comments and Stories. What was/is your favorite music or song, and why?

 

The elixir of Patience

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This month we have been exploring elixirs. Elixirs are qualities of consciousness assumed with the process of unfoldment of one’s deepest potentials for the good of the Whole. One such quality is Patience.

“Patience is a virtue” sums up nicely the alchemical nature of this positive attribute. Combined with other qualities such as persistence and even passion, patience can propel our actions forward to help us manifest our most worthy goals.

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So here are some nuggets about patience I found on the web:

“Being a good teacher takes patience; being a good doctor also takes patience. In fact, if you want to excel in anything, master any skill, patience is an asset.” Eknath Easwaran, Patience: A Little Book of Inner Strength 

“Struggles often serve to release the wisdom, patience, and strength we all possess but too seldom demonstrate.” Jim Stovall, Wisdom for Winners Volume One: A Millionaire Mindset, An Official Official Publication of The Napoleon Hill Foundation 

“But ‘not giving up’ requires a certain level of patience, of hours and hours, and sometimes days or weeks, months or years of trying and perfecting.” V. Noot, Don’t Give Up

“Doing interesting work when nobody notices takes patience and belief.” Brian Knapp, Creative Pursuit 

“One of the paradoxes of life is that being impatient often makes it harder to achieve something. As with any skill, you get better at manifesting the more you practice.” Simon Foster, Manifesting Change: How to Manifest Change, Love, Abundance and Prosperity 

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images are from pixabay.com

A Musical Tonic

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We are focussing on Elixirs this month as bringing  welcome encouragement and strength  that allows one to move forward from a personal achievement to ever new cycles of continuing  growth and development. The other day, I was feeling overwhelmed from a very busy schedule and at the same time feeling grateful for my book going forward (March 6 is the publication date for Your Life Path and I will post pre-ordering info soon!). One of my favorite of all time W.B. Yeats poems in the form of a song by Loreena Mckennitt, called “The Stolen Child,” played on my Pandora station. I replayed it several times and it was just the Elixir I needed then to reconcile my movement from where I am currently to where I am going as I will retire from Academe and relocate in under 9 months. The coda verse of this poem conveys where my heart is these days:

Come away, O human child!

To the waters and the wild

With a faery, hand in hand,

For the world’s more full of weeping

than you can understand.

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Beautiful music and poetry can be a balm unto the Soul.  They lift us to a realm of Spirit and to an eternal Presence of divine love and companionship that the outer, day-to-day reality can appear to remove us from, if we let it.

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images are from pixabay.com

So for your enjoyment, here is a Youtube version of Loreena McKennit’s “The Stolen Child,” composed from W. B. Yeats’ deep-hearted poem:

What music lifts your Soul? I welcome your comments and stories!

 

“Manna From Heaven” 

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Welcome to this month’s topic of ELIXIR: Personal Fulfillment.

I have a wonderful sister (three actually!) who is a pastor for the United Church of Christ. While that is not my own spiritual path, she and I share deeply and I treasure her viewpoint from her inclusive, liberal theology. While thinking of how to open this month’s theme, my sister Lee (Rev. Lee Ireland from Connecticut) told me of a sermon she was giving, called “Manna from Heaven.” Well, of course, that is the Elixir of Personal Fulfillment itself, so I invited Lee to share her sermon focus with us here.

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She agreed, so here are her words:

September 24, 2017 

Here we have one of the most human passages in scripture…this is a passage that is close to home as I think about all of those who’ve lost everything to the hurricanes and earthquakes. 

2 In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. 3 The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.” 

4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. 5 On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days.” 

and in the morning you will see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we, that you should grumble against us?” 8 Moses also said, “You will know that it was the Lord when he gives you meat to eat in the evening and all the bread you want in the morning, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we? You are not grumbling against us, but against the Lord.” 

11 The Lord said to Moses, 12 “I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, ‘At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.’ 

13 That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. 14 When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. 15 When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. 

Moses said to them, “It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat.”  : Exodus 16:2-15  

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   Have you ever felt like the Israelites in the passage above?    Like your life was going along just fine and then suddenly – the rug was pulled out from underneath you and you had to pack up and move??? And start all over again – with nothing? Think of all of those who are now feeling like that in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and Mexico –  who are enduring the consequences of the hurricanes and earthquake! 

    Last night I happened to see that “Bruce Almighty” was on TV and it was hilarious to listen to his lines from the beginning of the movie, which could’ve been exactly what was not printed in the Exodus passage.  It became even more meaningful when toward the end of the movie, God was playing a blind man begging for money and we heard the words to the song playing in the foreground:  “What if God was one of us?”   A profound touch to a movie that begs us all to consider our understanding of God and who we are as human beings living on this earth and in fellowship with one another.  Interesting!   

What if you had the role of being God for a few days?  What would YOU do?     

So – If you had been an Israelite – would you have not appreciated that the leaders were complaining to God about the way they were being treated? I mean, if God had said your tribe was his chosen people, and then led you out in the desert and proclaimed your freedom but now you were struggling to figure out how to survive, wouldn’t you be belly-aching and demanding justice just like you see described in this passage?  Justice from God?     

And what would you feel like when you heard God’s answer? – “I’ll give you your daily bread and quails”…. 

That would get old pretty fast, wouldn’t it?  

 What would you do?    

What would you have been hoping for God to do?    

It begs the deeper Q – what is your image of God?  A being up in heaven who manipulates us human beings like chess pieces?   Making demands before our needs will be met?   

BUT – according to this passage in Exodus – your needs ARE being met! Just not as you were expecting or according to your hopes and perhaps your design of how you wanted your life to go.   When you realize that your daily needs WILL be met – but not as you may have wished – you will hear the invitation – bringing a change in your mindset. 

You know that feeling?  

L I S T E N  
 
Begin to see with new eyes.  

Hear new messages that you wouldn’t hear otherwise. 
Trust differently.  Stop trying to influence other people’s free will.   
Recognize that God’s angels come in many different forms. 
What is it that you are seeing is emerging that couldn’t come any other way .  You know it could be because you have been demanding that God create things to fit into your vision rather than allowing the ways of love to unfold. How are youy today being asked to let go and Let God – be? Be the creator of your own life? 
It means you will have to check your ego at the door and “surrender”….surrender your attachments to particular outcomes  and thus  become a servant of divine love. 

May God’s light and peace and love pour down upon us this day and strengthen us in our ability to walk with one another and those we don’t yet know and share that and watch as other’s lives begin to open and be enriched and transformed.    Peace and grace, Amen.  

Prayer of the Day 

Gracious Lord,  
Fresh as each morning  you come to us, 
Crafter of manna. 
     Your grace rests  gently upon us, 
      waiting to be gathered, to become the bread of life 
we share throughout the day. 
 
Fresh as compassion’s justice, you come to us, 
Servant of the poor. 
Choosing to give as you desire, 
you show us the last, so we can make them first 
     in our hearts and hopes. 
Doing no wrong, you make us right 
     with God for all time. 
 
Fresh as the water, which turns a desert 
into a meadowland of flowers, 
Spirit of uninterrupted grace, you come to us. 
When we would grumble, you give us the gospel to live out; 
when we would protest, you teach us songs of praise; 
when we would utter laments, you fill us with God’s laughter. 
 
God in Community, Holy in One, 
refresh us with your presence 
as we continue to give you thanks and go forward with your love.  Amen.  

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images are from pixabay.com

Thanks for your Guest Blog, Rev. Ireland!

I welcome YOUR comments and Stories!

The Road to Sadhana

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The poem I shared last Tuesday I composed in 1978 while on a very memorable road trip across country by bus from Buffalo to Tempe, Arizona. I was traveling with a friend, Grace, to check out Arizona as I would be attending college there the next year. It was a very eventful trip on so many levels. The Greyhound bus broke down in Effingham, Illinois, and about half of us stayed on until Flagstaff, Arizona, where we were rerouted on a Trailways bus through what was one of my and Grace’s primary spiritual destinations anyway: Sedona.

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All through the bus trip, especially after the breakdown and even moreso after an encounter with apparently a murderous pair hightailing it out of Albuquerque (I’ll tell that in a bit), I composed a trip length poetic account of the journey. Part of the coda verse I still recall for the epic poem was:

On the Road to Sedona,

Where all is Sadhana…

Sadhana is an Eastern term designating a state of spiritual enlightenment; a state of calm one achieves from centering deeply.  As our theme this month is the similar or related experience of apotheosis, it feels right for me to revisit this adventure, now 39 years later.

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So the murderer, even more than the breakdown of the bus and rerouting through Sedona, sparked a major change of consciousness for me.  Grace and I were at a bus stop in Albuquerque where Grace met a police woman. She told Grace she was on the lookout for a murderer and his accomplice trying to get away from New Mexico.  Our bus left there at midnight, the last bus for the night. Two men, one recently bald, paid the bus driver directly when he got onto the bus instead of paying as was normal at the ticket booths. Grace and I were sitting second row from the front of the bus to avoid cigarette smoke. The tall, bald man, wearing a serape with a metallic bulge in the pocket which he arranged over the seat to be positioned so the bulge was just behind his head, sat in the front row, with his partner sitting catty-corner behind us across the aisle (carrying only a wrinkled, paper bag). The Bald One, who resembled Lurch from the Addams family to me, pulled out a cigarette (forbidden for the 1st three rows), stared ominously at the bus driver, and chortled: “Goodbye, New Mexico, forever!”

OK, so that sets the scene. My friend Grace immediately figures this is the murderer the police woman is after, so she leaves the bus to tell the woman about him. She returns, telling me the police woman acted frightened to know the men might already be on the bus and asked Grace to be careful and not stir up trouble. So, I got off and told her what I had seen re. the money exchange with the driver. She acted concerned but frightened and told me to get back onto the bus and also to not cause waves.

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The bus wound slowly through the night from Albuquerque to Flagstaff, a very long night for me as I was on high alert. I whispered our suspicions to the woman behind me, Terry, who had been instrumental in getting our passengers to stay after the breakdown and to be rerouted through Sedona so that some of the rest could go directly to LA. Terry was traveling with her grandmother. She started a phone chain whisper throughout the bus, notifying everyone of the possibility we had a murderer aboard. Unfortunately, this whisper also reached the Accomplice across the aisle, who suddenly started coughing and rattling his brown bag to get the attention of the Bald One.

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At a roadside stop in Holbrook, Grace and Terry and her grandmother and I sat huddled together at a diner. The Accomplice shadowed us, being sure to sit within earshot. The Bald One never came into the diner at all, pacing outside and at one point pressing his face and nose up against the window glass to stare in at us.

When we reboarded, the bus driver shot me a frightened glance, as if to say again, ‘Don’t cause waves!’

So, back on the bus for the next few hours I entered into a deep contemplation, the deepest of my life til then. I sang a mantra, HU, which is a sacred name for God known to many religions. I chanted and went into a deep state of repose where I encountered spiritual Masters and agencies giving me instructions on how to be a channel for calm and Light in this situation, to prevent a major catastrophe involving all the passengers.

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Then something really weird occurred on the bus. People who had thought the whispered suspicions were a hoax or funny started joking loudly about who the murderer was going to take to the back of the bus and shoot first! This was surreal to me. I sank deeper and deeper into my contemplation.

At dawn, as we were approaching Flagstaff and the beautiful desert and San Francisco Peaks there, I came out from the contemplation, truly altered. I felt a calm as I had not known before. As I looked out at the desert and the Mountain, I said to Terry and Grace:

“People think that the Desert is barren and dead;

It is not: It is teeming with Life!”

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At this statement from me, Bald Lurch turned his head slowly to stare me down.

“So, how do you feel about YOUR life?” he cooed ominously.

Now, you might think my response would be fearful, but no. Because of the alteration in consciousness I had enjoyed in the deep contemplation, I actually was feeling quite elated. I looked back at him, eye to eye, and smiled broadly:

“How are You!?” were the words that came out of my mouth.

The Bald One merely grunted in disgust and turned his head back to set upon that metallic bulge.

We reached Flagstaff, alive.  The Bald One and the Accomplice were the first to rise from their seats and head for the door. Once again, Lurch uttered mysteriously:

“Goodbye, New Mexico, forever!”

That was the last any of us saw of these two men, now across the border in Arizona.

After a few hours those of us going on to Phoenix boarded the Trailways bus that would take us through Sedona, known to Grace and myself as a very spiritually charged area as our spiritual group had land there at the time.  This part of the journey was like a pilgrimage for us.

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As we rounded the bend from Flagstaff down into the majestic Oak Creek Canyon, the bus stopped at a rest area. I walked across the field and stepped down a bit from the  cliff edge to sit and be immersed in the Canyon overview. It was like an Eagle’s Nest, and I have returned many times since. That is where The Canyon poem emerged:

It is drawing me into Its depths;

It will contain me;

Yet in that instant It shall free me,

Until IS-ness dissolves beyond

Eternity

Where Just Isness IS.

We reboarded the bus and headed on down the canyon into the red rock splendor of Sedona. At the bottom we got out for a food stop.

“It’s like love,” Terry said.

“It can never be contained,” I responded.

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images are from pixabay.com

Other than those words, language failed me. I could not speak, identifying one mountain or person or bus or tree; all was an absolute Unity. This utter silence stayed with me until we reached Phoenix. I would later remember it as a brief glimpse of cosmic consciousness, experienced on the Road to Sadhana.

* * * * * *  

This will be the final September post, as I have nothing more to say now on the topic!

I welcome your Comments and Stories!

WAY Will Out

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Philosophically, I value dialectical reasoning that allows for  a “tension of opposites” to resolve what may seem paradoxical at first blush, so thought arrives at a new, higher order of Synthesis. I have embraced this way of thinking and feeling ever since encountering it from reading W.B. Yeats’ theosophical book, A VISION, when I was 19.

Dialectical reasoning can be helpful in the most practical of situations as well as when contemplating some of the more horrific aspects of life.  Just as Day follows Night and Sun and Moon intercourse daily, in these material worlds Duality is a basic underlying reality, even though from a higher perspective, unity supercedes duality as an ordering principle. We always come back to the Center.

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Here are some common idioms that reveal the dialectical nature of our lives:

The darkest day is always before the dawn.

S/he loves me ;  S/he loves me not.

The best of times ; the worst of times.

No pain, no gain.

When faced with a difficult decision, we may call it a conundrum; that is, a dialectical choice.  Do we go or do we stay?  Give up, or press on?

The best solution to a dialectical conflict, I have found, is to:

SURRENDER

Ah, sweet surrender! You need not give up anything but your conflicted reasoning process.  Surrender to your Higher Consciousness.  Return to YOUR Center and act from there.

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I once had a Quaker friend who liked to say:

“Way will Out.”

That Way is the essence of Surrender, as also expressed through the Tao Te Ching, the Book of the Way.

“If you try to change it, you will ruin it. Try to hold it, and you will lose it.”
Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

So remember, if you choose:

Water seeks its own level; Way will out.

Die daily to be reborn anew.

Effortless Action issues from Stillness.

Find harbor in the eye of the storm.

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images are from pixabay.com

I welcome your comments and stories!

APOTHEOSIS / Fulfillment of the Quest

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Fulfillment of one’s quest promotes “apotheosis” in Joseph Campbell’s terms pertaining to the Hero Cycle. That is our topic for September. In The Hero With 1000 Faces, Campbell presents apotheosis as an initiation stage by which duality is dissolved into unity.

The merging of opposites: masculine + feminine, positive + negative, physical + Divine; such fulfillment transcends merely apparent paradoxes.  Neutrality is achieved, being neither for nor against. Equanimity allows us to resolve differences and internal as well as external conflicts. Stasis occurs at the eye of the storm. From here one attains Higher Consciousness.

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Freedom is born; a new, heightened sense of freedom from any attachments. Now one is free to move on to new adventures, no longer trammeled by whatever tension of opposites might have brought him/her to overcome obstacles and navigate stormy seas to arrive here.

In life we are constantly asking ourselves—if we are at all reflexive about our progress, or Being—who am I? And then again, who am I, Now? This ‘I’ that we are asking after, this Higher Self, resides always in the Apotheosis state.

I think of Rumi, who must certainly have many a poem about apotheosis. Here’s a verse:

“Through your love

existence and nonexistence merge.

All opposites unite.

All that is profane

becomes sacred again.”

 – Rumi

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Have you experienced times in your life when cycles have shifted and you have felt a special calm after fulfilling some deep quest? Sometimes when I have worked on a difficult project and have completed that successfully, either alone or with others in service, I know, as Frederico Lorca expressed so poetically:

“Something has come

to an end here,

It has been

accomplished.”

I feel the ending of a cycle as an equinox in my life. It has often seemed to me in such a moment that I could willingly die then, translating my life experience into new forms in another dimension. But then, so far anyways in this life, the next project or adventure appears on the horizon, so I am off again to meet it.

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images are from pixabay.com

The attainment of Fulfillment for any one Quest brings strength and understanding we can apply evermore.

Do you have a story to share?  I invite and welcome your comments and stories.

Relationship Better Endings

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When I coach people through a Life Path Mapping process, during a reflective phase I ask them to consider how they have managed transitions in their lives.  For each major Turning Point they have identified with their life mapping, I ask them whether in retrospect they wish they would have done anything differently and, if so, what might have transpired.

Most life mappers tend to say they would not make any changes in their past decisions or choices, because of all the subsequent change that also would have occurred.  They have learned from whatever has happened, so why look back?  Yet, those who do entertain this almost taboo thought experiment find it illuminating because it helps them to focus on what really are their core values and long-term goals.

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Significant relationships often bring about Turning Points in our lives.  Entering a new relationship, with another person or with a pet or with new colleagues as you assume a new role in your career, opens many fresh opportunities for growth and development. It is like you have pressed a REFRESH button, although of course soon you are likely to encounter similar situations and challenges you have faced before. How will you approach this similar challenge this time?

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One way to ‘trouble shoot’ fresh relationships is to review your past.  Take stock of the strengths you bring to these new relations as well as the patterns of inhibitions or difficulties you have encountered before.

Here is a Better Endings journaling tool you are welcome to entertain:

Reflect upon a relationship from your life history that was never well resolved or that continues to be troublesome in some respects, or one that ended poorly.  Consider that situation as a STORY.  Now then, change that story.  Imagine and/or journal about and re-write the ending or a better resolution of that relationship. What might have happened or could happen differently?  

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images are from pixabay.com

(After my own reflections today): If you find on reflection that you feel there is nothing about your past relations that you COULD have changed (as that is how it seems they were meant to be), still you can look ahead and contemplate what changes you might make as you approach a new relationship or to improve your present relations.

The more attention you give to how YOU might improve your past relations, the better prepared you may be to go forward with a new attitude, welcoming the new opportunities before you!

I welcome your Comments and Stories!

The Urge to Merge: The Sacred Marriage

Preface:  Today (solar eclipse day, 8/21/17) I want to wish a Very Happy Birthday!!! to hom a:kuwaye (my special Zuni friends, twins) Arlene and Darlene. And thank you for your prayers and sage advice about my concerns in the blog that follows. They have let me know that one of the Rain Priests at Zuni, a relative of theirs, has been praying for Longevity. WE should all be very grateful to Zuni religious leaders who have the whole of humanity in their hearts and prayers!

Oh yes, and also Thank YOU to all Followers linked to this blog. Yesterday we reached the magic number of 5000 Followers, which has been a major goal for me from the beginning!

 

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I am contemplating life and “death” tonight.  The US may be at the verge of a conflict that may easily get out of balance; our human and animal lives are fragile and could be taken quickly.  So our topic this month of the Sacred Marriage is all that more vital to comprehend.  The phrase “the urge to merge” came to me in contemplation.  Soul merges with Spirit.  We are not these bodies but the consciousness of Soul within the Ocean of Love and Mercy we may call Divinity.

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As we realize this, that Soul and Spirit and Divinity are a Unity, a Oneness, then we understand that life can never be either given nor can It be taken away. It just Is, as Isness Itself, and that is a loving condition, the ultimate awareness of IAMTHATIAM, or, Alone with the All One.

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I remember a Star Trek original series episode where a species’ Sun was going nova so they needed to be transported away.  They had evolved to pure energy beings, so Kirk and his officers allowed the passengers to semi-possess their body states in order to be transported.  What I recall is how separated and alone they felt, wearing bodies.

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I don’t usually speak too directly of spirituality in this blog, but the times as well as the topic lead me to do so now.  I will share a vision I experienced a few years ago, as it transcends any specific religious dogma.

A Being visited me in that wonderful interstice zone between sleeping and waking.  I could not assign a gender or a race to this beautiful Being.  S/he was gentle and loving is all I can say, with a delicate beauty beyond any mere bodily state.

“How are things going out there?” The Visitor asked me.

I paused to reflect, then answered:

“Well, there are lots of  people believing in many different religions,” I heard myself respond.  “But most people are still afraid of death.”

The Visitor paused as on a breath and issued softly:

“Next time, we won’t do Religion.”

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images are from pixabay.com

The Urge to Merge with Spirit, with Divine Love that IS who we Are as Soul, is the most natural and graceful inspiration we can allow.  Sweet surrender, trust, and faith can lead us Home, which we have never really left anyway.

I wish peace and love to all.

Into the Woods—A ‘Better Endings’ Revision

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For those new to this blog, or as a refresher since I haven’t looked at this topic directly for awhile here, I am interested in the principle of BETTER ENDINGS.  In fact I have a book in progress about this principle, as it applies not only to literature or mythic constructions but also, and more importantly, to our own lives.

There’s a concept I have learned from Eckankar about working with dreams. If you are dreaming and you do not like what is happening in your dreamscape,  you can change the dream while you are in it as a lucid dream activity; or, immediately upon waking you can rewind the dream and change its ending in your imagination.  This may help you to release the stress associated with the situation encoded by the dream. (I recommend Harold Klemp’s THE ART OF SPIRITUAL DREAMING for many helpful dreamwork techniques.)

But here’s a plus factor: If you can become skilled at changing your nightly dreams, so too you increase your capacity to make changes in your day-to-day life, effecting BETTER ENDINGS! What IF…you had taken that job, stayed with or left that relationship, gone on that vacation? You can re-vision your past choices and attitudes to bring about better coping skills and to realign your Life Path with your most ardent goals.

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Our topic this month of The Sacred Marriage has lots of fertile grounds for ‘better-endering.’  Let me try my hand at a Better Endings rendering for the Sondheim play “Into the Woods”:

I love the play (and movie) Into the Woods’, but I do not like the bitter ending. Why does the baker’s wife have to fall off a cliff to her doom?  The guilty party in confusing her was the philandering Prince, whose charming charisma and political power allows him to believe he can take advantage of any woman in the realm, even forsaking the beautiful princess Cinderella whom he has gone to such great lengths to woo. No, I do not like this bitter pill of an ending, at all!

In my Better Ending for this fairy tale, the Baker’s wife lives on to raise her new baby with her faithful husband.  Cinderella comes upon her charmer of a husband trying unsuccessfully to woo his rival Prince Valiant’s Rapunzel, and Cinderella lets Prince Valiant know what she has seen. The two Princes have a swordfight.     In a final, mutual flourish stab, they pierce each other at the lip of that fatefull cliff the Baker’s wife had been slated for, and they both go toppling over to their deaths.  Cinderella, now freed from this sordid affair, is Queen! She invites Rapunzel to be a story teller for the realm, and together they effect feminist reforms for their Peoples.

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images are from pixabay.com

So, there you have it, a Better Endings retelling for Into the Woods that aims to address the true meaning of The Sacred Marriage.  We marry our values, our integrity. This serves the Whole.

Is there a story about marriage or partnership—either fictional or in your own life—that you believe could benefit from a Better Ending?  Envision it! Write it down! Make the relevant changes!

I welcome your Comments and Stories.!

Call Upon Your Inner Archetype Allies

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Here is a list of The Twelve primordial, universal persona archetype figures, as set forth by Dr. Charles Bebeau of the former Avalon Archetype Institute and as updated in terms of naming by Debra Breazzano, MA/LPC:

ELDER LEADER    ARTIST    TEACHER

LOVER       IDEALIST     COMMUNICATOR

WARRIOR     GOLDEN  CHILD    HEALER

NOURISHER    DESCENDER    MYSTIC

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Which of these 12 potential Archetype Allies, included as archetypical forms in anyone’s  personal unconscious identifications, could be helpful to you right Now? You can call upon one or more than one of these universal archetypes, which each possess tremendous energy for supporting your goals with inner strengths and nudges, to help you to understand what course of action will be most beneficial to you for realizing your most worthy goal.

Call upon the positive Strengths of your Ally. This represents your own inherent talents and reinforces your natural perceptive abilities. Here is a self-discovery Tool you can use:

First, identify a positive Goal.

Second, review the list of The Twelve presented above (you can print out this page), and circle one or more than one that you intuitively sense could help you to achieve your goal.

Third, list the Ally or Allies you have selected, and identify some of your own traits or personal qualities that you would like to strengthen and utilize in the pursuit of your goal.

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As a personal example to illustrate this self-discovery Tool, a current goal of mine is to complete a deep edit of my book manuscript which I hope to deliver in about a week. I call upon my inner Communicator, Idealist, and Artist as general Allies, and I have found myself calling forth other Archetype Allies during the work at hand. Editing a chapter where I am offering a process for Descent and Re-Emergence, for instance (in my upcoming book, Your Life Path), I found my inner Descender offering helpful examples and helping me stay true to the intent and purpose of that chapter.

Your internalized persona archetype Allies are at least in part forged and developed based upon the role identities you have assumed in your life.                 

You have internalized some of the traits and abilities of role models who have influenced your development of these roles, such as Parent, Teacher, Adventurer, etcetera.  You can learn to tap into your usually unconscious repertoire of these internalized archetypal traits and personas; my book will provide Tools to allow you to do this (and I will offer an upcoming webinar series even before the book is published in March 2018 by Flyinghorse Publishers).

You may find yourself growing in strength as you “integrate” your archetypal parts-of-Self within a more ‘individuated’ and internally harmonious Whole.

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images are from pixabay.com

I welcome your Comments and Stories!

Inner Guidance

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Let me make no mistake about it, we are living in difficult times. Whatever our beliefs and values may be, they are under siege by opposing values or by the tenuousness of “truth” itself as a standard upon which we can collectively agree.

Some call it a return to tribalism: a refraction of identity into sub-cultural group affiliations. Clan-like factions abound; whom can you talk to or trust? Any stranger might explode at any moment in a public space, opening fire upon the innocent.

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What matters then, in such times of potential turmoil? What goals may still hold value? Where can you turn for reliable guidance? 

On a more positive note, you can always Go Within to find truth by attending to your own ‘inner counsel’. I assure you this is not merely a solipsistic response to collective uncertainty; it is an age-old, universal capacity that has steered the course of history. I believe that when we seek our highest Self and the companionship of Spirit or Divinity Itself in our deepest repose through active contemplation, prayer or meditation practices, we can connect with that which is greater than ourselves alone.

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“The One with the All One” is a spiritual image that comes to mind.  Or, “One for All and All for One!” In other words, when we seek our own answers that ‘ring true’ within our highest (NOT our lowest or our conditionally biased!) states of positive, life affirming consciousness, we assume our relation to the Whole of Life Itself. To me, this brings us to a position of unconditional love. If we act from this love, all will be in accord with that which serves the highest Good.  That’s my hopeful belief, anyway.

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This month I am inviting you to reflect on the role of Helpers in your own—in all of our— life journey. Inner Helpers come to meet us where we seek them out—be it in a contemplative state or in our dreams.  If you keep a journal that includes a dream diary to record your insights that arise from your inner guidance, then reviewing your journal entries once a week or once a month can help you to recognize the help you are receiving in the form of your own Inner Guidance.  Maybe you will uncover a Theme recurring in your dreams or even in your daydreams.  Keeping track of your dreams and daily insights holds open a channel of communication with your ‘inner counsel’ that can help to always to steer you in YOUR right directions.

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images are from pixabay.com

There are many excellent books on the subject of dream techniques and inner guidance. Two I have learned from are THE ART OF SPIRITUAL DREAMING, by Harold Klemp, and INNER GUIDANCE by Anne Archer Butcher.

I welcome always your insights and stories!

 

 

 

Rumi and Shams

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One of the greatest true stories about the appearance of a Helper whose relationship with an ardent aspirant transforms not only that ‘student’ but through him, also the world, is that of Shams-y-Tabriz (one of several spellings) and the gifted poet, Rumi.

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Shams Tabrizi is often claimed as a Sufi or Muslim although more accurately he could be described as a “wandering mendicant” who associated with many religious backgrounds but not only one.  Shams found in Rumi a spiritually thirsty, deeply honest Soul who was able to also put aside a single faith tradition in order to experience Spirit in a most direct manner that Shams taught him to embrace.

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Shams may have been murdered by associates of Rumi who thought of Shams as heretical. After his Master’s death, Rumi’s grief and burning love of Spirit Itself as he had learned to experience IT through his Teacher, was so intense that Rumi developed the whirling dervish technique of spinning to leave his bodily consciousness . He also began composing a large body of some of the greatest spiritual poetry known to humanity, including the Song of the Reed.

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Below is one of Rumi’s poems about his beloved Helper, translated from Coleman Barks.

I swear, since seeing Your face,

the whole world is fraud and fantasy

The garden is bewildered as to what is leaf

or blossom. The distracted birds

can’t distinguish the birdseed from the snare.

 

A house of love with no limits,

a presence more beautiful than venus or the moon,

a beauty whose image fills the mirror of the heart.

The Divani Shamsi Tabriz XV http://www.khamush.com/love_poems.html#Love is the Water of Life

 

The Helpers

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In every Hero’s Adventure—as in your own Journey of life—“when the student is ready, the Teacher appears.” Teachers, Masters, Mentors, Guardian Angels, Guides, and Signs or signposts arrive to escort us or to prepare us for the challenging passage into the Unknown.

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When we look back we can appreciate how a Helper arrived who allowed us to advance in ways we probably never would have otherwise considered. That special teacher appears who lights up a whole field of study for you at school, or that talented role model who demonstrates qualities you long to develop in yourself; by accepting such encounters we connect with our deepest aspirations and claim our life’s motivating Mission or Purpose.

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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is playing as I write this, so as we are celebrating the twentieth anniversary of J. K. Rowling’s gift of the wondrous world of Harry Potter, let’s focus on Dumbledore as the archetypal Mystic Helper. The qualities Dumbledore exhibits in his mentoring of Harry are those latent qualities Harry is needing to develop in himself in order to fulfill his destiny: magical abilities, teaching skills, the practice of right discernment, balancing good vs. evil impulses, and dedication based on love foremost.

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Think of a Helper who appeared or is now present in your life and whose example and insights have helped you develop aspects of your own nature that have allowed you to move further along on your own purposeful journey.

How did you meet this Helper? What interests or abilities has s/he aided you to develop?

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images are from pixabay.com

This month we honor and celebrate The Helpers.

I invite your Comments and Stories.

A Wayfarer Tribute for Larry

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Larry is a kind, friendly man who has served as the director of mail services at my university. This past year several times he and I have chatted when he asked me to sign for some mail at my department. Larry was so excited to be retiring this summer. He and his wife have invested in real estate so that they would have a worry free retirement. He encouraged me in my plans to retire next summer, emphatic that sooner rather than later is the best course to take. He was so excited the last two times we talked, with his retirement date and the liberation it represents edging closer and closer.

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Around two weeks ago, though, Larry suffered a heart attack; my understanding is that he passed from this life the following morning. What a turn of events, I thought at first; how unfair his demise after all of his excellent planning.  How precious and fleeting is a lifetime!  As I will soon be 63 and am beginning to have some health concerns, I wonder about what is to come and want to do all I can NOW, in case Spirit calls me home unexpectedly.

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But then a few days ago while I was in a dentist chair trying not to pay too much attention to possibly painful probing in my mouth, I was blessed to see Larry.  Inwardly I had introduced him to my own Inner Guide, and I watched as he and this Master walked forward along a beautiful pathway into the Light ahead. He was happy and conveyed that to me. He was more excited and interested in discovering what was to come than in looking behind to see what he was leaving. He appeared younger and spry of step. I felt happy for him, the Soul of Larry.

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Now I get that Larry HAS achieved a very happy retirement to a beautiful new life, albeit sadly without his wife outwardly. I am sure where he is going will be where he has earned the right to go forward spiritually in all that Soul’s interests and love.

Life is fleeting from the short perspective of a single persona or lifetime. It is also of immense value to Soul, as each lifetime we have a golden, unique opportunity to express our love and gain insights from the specific conditions and relationships we cultivate in the current body state we occupy in that lifetime. I am a strong believer in reincarnation and in the continuation of Soul to higher and higher states of being and levels of service to the whole.

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Larry’s departure reaffirms, to me, that we learn life’s specific lessons and take those gems of wisdom with us ever more, wherever we go.  His joyful excitement and love that I observed in his moving along into the next phase of his own spiritual expression teaches me the value of fully embracing this Life for all of its treasures!

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images are from pixabay.com

What treasures would you take with you if you were called home today?

When Your Dream Becomes a Nightmare? Adapt!

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June brings our new monthly theme at Better Endings for Your Life Path (see Monthly Topics); the next stage as we proceed forward with the Hero Cycle process is:  TRIALS AND REVELATIONS.

I can certainly relate right now at this juncture in my own life’s journey.  This past month, while blogging here about “Descent into the Belly of the Whale,” I sank into a deep contemplation one day while sitting in the center of an outdoor stone labyrinth. I asked my Inner Guide:

“What is it you/Spirit would ask me to improve upon or change as I proceed forward into the next phase of my journey?”

I received a clear answer:

“Adaptability”

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This answer has lingered in my consciousness.  Adaptability is certainly an important TOOL for me to employ as I approach retirement next summer and the release of my book, Your Life Path, next March.

A few days ago, I had a breakthrough with regard to adaptability. I have been conceiving of one and only one destination for retirement.  Yet when I visited that location through the month of March into April, I encountered a terrifying series of ordeals in the form of an invasion of my very body (and my dog’s and car) by parasitic insects. It took six weeks and a heavy load of new credit debt to clear that scourge, and I find myself left with PTSD around these ‘bug issues’ that I am still working on. When I think of that truly wonderful location, it now brings forth a sense of dread: how could I ever feel entirely safe were I to live there? I know this is not rational yet it is deeply entrenched.

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images are from pixabay.com

So I have been thinking about today’s topic: What Can You Do When Your Dream Becomes a Nightmare?

My answer is clear: ADAPT!

With Life Path Mapping, I always encourage people to remain FLEXIBLE and OPEN TO CHANGE. Future life mapping is not about setting a specific location or job or relationship as a necessary or fixed destination. It is about  projecting your VALUES forward into a future set of conditions that will fulfill your sense of purpose, mission, and life satisfaction.

So I took out a map to see where else could I go to satisfy my interests in a retirement community: closer to family, a vibrant community, a lake.  And I found an amazing location I have known of but had not realized how near it is to where I have wanted to be anyway.  I have a new location focus now.

Adaptation rocks!

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I welcome YOUR Comments and Stories.

 

Liminal Guides with their Gifts of Magical Tools

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How are you to traverse the aqueous or prickly domain of the ‘belly of the whale’ during your liminal descent as you assume the full import of the rest of your Adventure ahead? You will find, if you but care to ask, a Helper is standing by, ready to guide you through the morass. S/he will bestow upon you some device, a Tool that can help you face your internal dragons and illuminate pitfalls and opportunities along YOUR Path ahead.

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Mentors, Masters, Wizards, Teachers, and Guides: all are role models who have already achieved the goals of the Quest you are set upon to realize your most noble Purpose.  They can show you the Way as they know from experience what ordeals you must face, but it is YOU who must walk the Path and learn the Lessons set out before you. It would not help you for your Guide to make your decisions for you or to simply transport you immediately to your destination. For this Journey you are on, this Glorious Quest, is your road of trials that prepares you by letting you develop your talents and your wisdom, so you can become a Master in your own right (and time); so that you may become a Guide to other acolytes seeking their own purposeful goals, down the Road.

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images are from pixabay.com

Your Inner (and/or Outer) Guide will bestow upon you devices appropriate to every stage of your journey; Tools you can utilize to traverse the terrain of the specific segment of the adventure you are ready to engage.  It may be a device to illuminate the Darkness (Lumos!) or a weapon to defend against your most dangerous foes. Luke Skywalker, for example, receives a light sabre that lets him focus and direct his positive force of energy as needed; Frodo wears the ring of invisibility that protects him (while at the same time exposing him as he wears it) from the negative Eye of Sauron, Evil incarnate.

All you must do is to be open and accepting, to recognize your Teacher (as they often appear in disguise).   Remember, as the wise adage states: When the aspirant is ready, the Teacher Appears.

I welcome YOUR Comments and Story.