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.

Liminal Lives … as Change Agents

 

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Artists including painters, musicians, writers, actors/directors, photographers, and others (including some scientists) who apply their artistic perspective or highly focused talents and perspectives to the work or the vocation they love, often spend much of their lives as what we could call liminal persons.  They might feel or be perceived as “outside” the norms of society, either by happenstance or by design.

As Outsiders, liminal persons can develop a point of view or vantage point at odds with normal convention; it is often this very ‘oddity’ about them that allows them to contribute original or even revolutionary ideas.  They can help a culture or a community to bend and flex in ways otherwise less likely and can help a society to adjust more quickly to new conditions. 

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The Beatles when they first erupted upon the musical scene in the ‘60s were one such liminal group. They broke up thought forms by what at the time was considered even radical hair styles, musical beats, and ideology as represented in their lyrics. Mostly they sang about love, but the love they celebrated was broader and deeper. They wrote of world peace and love as a generational construct at odds with their own society’s post WWII and more recent Korean War global conflicts and the controversial war in Viet Nam. It was important for the Beatles to stand outside conservative norms in order to move society forward, even bringing non-Western spirituality to the fore in their later songs and lives.

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Socrates in classical Greek times was likewise viewed as an Outsider to the established order. He went about encouraging free thinking in public arenas through his method of philosophical questioning. Socrates’ decision not to escape his sentence of drinking hemlock for the crime of “corrupting” traditional Greek thought of the time was in itself a violation of norms, forcing people to think about his premise of the immortality of Soul.

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Let’s list some more names of historically well-known liminal persons whose departures from norms helped humanity to be more open to new ideas or even to revolutionary change:  Amelia Earhart, Albert Einstein, Rumi, Gertrude Stein, Frida Kahlo, Emily Dickenson, William Butler Yeats, Lord Byron, Albert Camus, Immanuel Velikovsky, Nelson Mandela, Andy Warhol, Vincent Van Gogh, Oscar Wilde, Michelangelo. You can add to this list to form a litany of change agents who in the times they lived were relative loners or outcasts.

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images are gratefully from pixabay.com

So we see the genius of Life inflecting in such broad strokes of diversity–often accompanied by intense sacrifice or by long-term personal isolation and hardship–so as to illuminate and break through boundaries of perspective and limitations of human consciousness in ways that have allowed our species not only to survive but to thrive.

Vive la difference! as the French might say.  Or, as Lennon and McCartney contributed: “Imagine!”

I welcome YOUR Comments and Stories.

Liminal Passages (Liminality, Part Two)  

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Victor Turner said of the betwixt-and-between (where one is likely to experience marginalized feelings during this Transition stage of a Rite of Passage) that one is caught up, as it were, within a Liminal Zone—like a limbo or purgatory—which Turner describes as Anti-Structure.  You have left the settled life of being part of the Structure of a society to enter into this no-persons land. You have stripped away or have had stripped away much of your former identity (this point is for my sister to read re. her recent dream of identity loss; Hi, Lee!).  You have obstacles to face in your Descent as you pass through the Forbidden territory of Anti-Structure, before you can (with your successful passage) re-enter Structure but in a new role and status based on the transformation of your consciousness and personhood you will have attained during this important, meaningful Transition. There is usually a role model or Guide to lead you through this stage; s/he has been where you are aiming to go and has achieved the new status/ level of consciousness you seek to attain with your Quest. Your Guide will help you so far as you need, or ask.

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Liminality is such an important stage for anyone (or group) seeking to bring about a positive, transformational adjustment in order to realize a deeply beneficial goal, that I want to share more examples here for you to ponder in their possible relation to your own contemplated, desired changes.

Hiawatha and the League of the Iroquois (A Whole-Society Revitalization)

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Hiawatha has lost his wife and three daughters, who were murdered by a chief of his own village during a blood feud among the Iroquois tribes and other regional tribes.  He wanders in the woods, desolate and alone. Some say he develops cannibalistic (Windigo-like) thoughts which he despises in himself.

Hiawatha, either from a boat looking into the waters or in a cabin looking in a pot of water, sees a figure—a god, as he is called—named Deganawidah, looking back at him. This figure—some say a real man with a speech impediment also in the woods—conveys to Hiawatha a Condolence Ritual to help him and his peoples grieve their losses, and he imparts guidelines for a new political confederacy, an alliance of the member tribes: the League of the Iroquois. Six tribes eventually joined this League, which still has relevance today. They put aside their internal fighting and agreed to select lifelong delegates (sachems), installed by the Clan Mothers, who would adjudicate disputes. Greater peace, and strength, ensued for many generations to follow.

Lost Horizon (A Personal Calling and Realization of True Potential)

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Robert Conway and a small crew of allies (unknowingly hand-picked) are hijacked when a small plane leaving China-controlled Tibet (in the post-WWII era) suspiciously crash lands in the deep snows of the Himalayas.  Porters carrying just the right-sized and number of coats appear and the porters escort Conway’s group through a difficult passage in the Himalayas over several days. Eventually they round a bend and see the spectacular, verdant and temperate valley where the Abbot and staff of the amazing Temple of Shangri-La welcome them.

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Conway comes to understand after meeting with the aged Abbot that he has been called to replace this spiritual giant when he (soon to be) passes. Yet he has to reach a degree of faith in the validity of this calling and of the purpose of Shangri-La itself in both a world-beneficial and personal sense.  He escorts his cynical brother away from the Temple when his brother nearly convinces him Temple staff have been lying, but once his brother dies in an avalanche and the woman who claimed she was not protected from aging at the Valley suddenly ages and dies, Conway develops but one core ambition: to return to Shangri-La even after he returns briefly to the US. Following another arduous adventure and crossing (a Second Threshold), Conway returns to Shangri-La to return to the woman there he had fallen in love with and to assume his unselfish, divinely inspired role.

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Star Wars Episode 5: Return of the Jedi (Spiritual Warrior Training and Transformation of Consciousness)

A name that you all recognize: Yoda.  Luke Skywalker departs (separates) from his compatriot rebels to find this Jedi Master so he can train to become a Jedi Knight, “like his father before him.” Luke’s training has all the character of a Liminal Passage. He feels frustrated and powerless at first, doubting his own abilities and doubting the veracity of Yoda’s capabilities as a Teacher. Yoda shows patience with young Luke and reveals his own strengths only as needed, asking the Acolyte to work at self-mastery instead of relying on his master’s techniques. When Yoda sends Luke into the mysterious, swampy domain where he will meet his own negative side in the form of Darth Vader (his Dark Father nature, after all), Luke disregards Master Yoda’s suggestion that he leave his light saber behind. Luke ends up defeating only himself by allowing his fear and anger to lead him to confront the image of Vader therein, a lesson very important for Luke to learn.

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Luke gains Jedi skills from Yoda, yet he has more to learn in the forge of experience as the saga continues. He returns to the fields of battle to save his friends and to serve the Rebellion as best he is able.

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To conclude this reflection on Liminal Passages, consider their role in your personal Life Story.  The more deeply the Liminal Zone is entered into and absorbed, the greater the transformation of consciousness that may occur and with that, the greater the benefits may radiate out from the Hero(ine) to the Whole and its values they are pledged to defend and uphold. The Hero is a Role Model for those s/he serves and  hence can become a guide or Teacher for other Acolytes.

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images are from pixabay.com

And so the Great Cycle continues, life after life, purpose after purpose.  What is YOUR PURPOSE for being Here? What strengths can you develop to be of greatest value to the Whole?

I welcome YOUR Comments and STORY!

 

Liminality: The Betwixt and Between

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Why is it that after a hero has crossed the initial threshold of adventure, there is always a descent to undergo before the adventure can be pursued to the point of true fulfillment? An adventure story worth its salt, so to speak,—fictional or yours—is first and foremost a Rite of Passage.

Anthropologists recognize that a complete Rites of Passage/ Hero Cycle adventure occurs over three ritual or Hero Cycle stages. The adventure proceeds from:

(Stage 1)  Separation–whereby the hero(es) remove themselves from their normal state of affairs in order to pursue a personally meaningful and collectively beneficial Quest–; to

 (Stage 2) the Transition Zone–wherein they meet themselves and encounter obstacles in the form of trials and tribulations–; to

(Stage 3, when or if the Quest is successfully fulfilled), their Return and Reincorporation–whereby the more mature and better individuated Self benefits others as well as themselves from their positive transformation of values and the maturity they have brought back from their ritual passage.

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The Transition Zone (Stage Two of a complete Rites of Passage/ Hero Cycle odyssey) is where a Descent—sometimes metaphorically depicted as being swallowed up or in the Belly of the Whale—must occur in order for the Quester(s) to develop and strengthen their depth of character quite literally, as in what Jung would call a more integrated and thereby a better balanced unconscious-with-conscious Self. 

In the Transition Zone of a Rites of Passage cycle, the Quester encounters liminality: the experience of feeling as if they are “betwixt and between” normal spheres of reality or society.  As both Victor Turner and Anthony Wallace have described rites of passage, this sense of liminality—whether for an individual or sometimes for an entire society when a revitalization movement occurs—places the person (or social group) in an experience of marginality. They are no longer in the status or role they had before embarking on their adventure, yet they have not yet accomplished or fulfilled their quest whereby they could claim a new, greater role or their successful social-psychological adjustment. I love Anthony Wallace’s description of this (when successfully achieved) process as a Mazeway Resynthesis: a psychological/cognitive reorganization of values and behavior according to an adjustive, fulfilling new Vision of (individual and/or cultural) reality as a whole!

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images are from pixabay.com

Here are just a few examples of popular literary/ fictional stories that include prominent LIMINAL ZONE sub-plots or scenes:

Harry Potter: especially in his feelings of isolation from even his closest allies and in his nightmarish dreams of Voldemort from episodes 4-7;

Lord of the Rings: in Frodo’s passage, with Samway and the devious trickster Gollum as companions in liminality, to Mordor to destroy the One Ring in Return of the King;

The Wizard of Oz: e.g. in the Forbidden Forest, the Poppy Fields, and the Wicked Witch’s castle; and

The Bucket List: in the main characters’ unsuccessful outer quest to climb Mt. Everest,  during which they come to realize the true value of love and family.

What about you in your own unique LIFE STORY? Can you identify with a time in your life when you have experienced (or have yet to) LIMINALITY?  I invite you to journal about this experience or prospect. What did or have you to GAIN?

I welcome your Comments and Story!

 

 

Carl G. Jung on Descent and Active Imagination

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One of my favorite books is Carl G. Jung’s posthumously published THE RED BOOK. (BTW for the past few years it has become available in a “Reader’s Edition” (2012) for only around 25.00; a great buy, although the original has his amazing drawings and mandalas and the original German journal entries.)

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 I have used this book as a textbook whenever I teach a university class on life mapping.  Jung’s self-initiated DESCENT in 1913 for 25 nights and then for some twenty years more with less regularity deeply influenced his therapy practice and theory along with his understanding of the collective unconscious, divinity, as well as personal unconscious ‘persona’ archetypes. Rather than blogging in a reflexive way myself then this week, I present for you below some of Jung’s direct insights (and those of the book’s editor, Sonu Shamdasani). I hope that you enjoy them and I invite you as he would to undertake a process of active imagination and journaling to engage in and record your own encounter with your own unconscious, archetypal parts-of-Self!

“The task of individuation lay in establishing a dialogue with the fantasy figures–or contents of the collective consciousness–and integrating them into consciousness, hence recovering the value of the mythopoeic imagination which had been lost to the modern age, and thereby reconciling the spirit of the time with the spirit of the depth.” (Shamdasani; The Red Book (Reader’s Edition, 2012, Introduction: pg. 49)

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“This was my twenty-fifth night in the desert. This is how long it took my soul to awaken from a shadowy being to her own life.” (Jung, The Red Book (Reader’s Edition, 2012: 145)

…I had spoken to my soul during 25 nights in the desert and I had given her all my love and submission. But during the 25 days I gave all my love and submission to things, to men,and to the thoughts of this time. I went into the desert only at night.(Jung, The Red Book (Reader’s Edition, 2012: 151)

“The spirit of the depths opened my eyes and I caught a glimpse of the inner things, the world of my soul, the many-formed and changing.” (Jung, The Red Book (Reader’s Edition, 2012: 147)

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As I do not wish to violate fair use laws and hope I haven’t yet in using these quotes, I will add that at the end of his reflections on his Descent via active imagination, he states that ever since he would invite all of his therapy clients and friends to do likewise: to encounter their own depth personae and to “write it all down” as he did first in his Black Book and then copied with art into The Red Book journal. He painted mandala images when he completed a phase of understanding; you can see these online or in the 2009 original publication of The Red Book.

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images are from pixabay.com

I welcome YOUR comments and story!

Descent–Into the Belly of the Whale

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For this month of May let’s explore here the stage of the Hero’s Adventure which requires Descent and Re-emergence.  Once an adventurer set upon their glorious Quest crosses the (first) threshold to enter into the domain of their field of action to achieve fulfillment, they are often initially “swallowed up” or they descend into a “forbidden (verboten) zone” of a sort that accords with their needs.  Descent signifies allowing oneself to explore the fertile realms of archetypal unconscious potential. Descent is a necessary process to undertake before you can claim any true progress in attaining your most worthy purpose or goal.

Many an epic narrative illuminates the rich though challenging encounter with ‘denizens of the Deep’, such as is represented by the biblical story of Jonah and the Whale. This is a descent into the “dynamism of the Unconscious” according to archetypal psychologists including Carl Jung, James Hillman and Joseph Campbell.

Your unconscious psychological Innerscapes that you may feel are “below” or ‘beneath’ your surface level of conscious awareness are vital like rich loam, oozing with multiple, too often “buried” perceptions, feelings and insights.

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Halloween, for example, is a time of year set aside to release and engage with such a ‘dark,’ shadowy level of consciousness that may actually represent your own unconscious, ‘inner’ worlds. Who do you like to dress up as on Halloween? What might that say about your own archetypal ‘shadow’ selves?

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This month I invite you to “step down,” to accept and listen more closely to your own subconscious and deeper unconscious–often called “gut”–voices. They are YOU; facets of your own total consciousness that derive in part from the various roles and lived experiences you have accumulated and enacted in your life, including those usually more ‘hidden’ parts of Self that might feel stunted, silenced or in “Shadow”.

Sink Into Deep Waters: A Creative Visualization Activity

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As a self-discovery, active imagination technique that you can use to facilitate the psychologically energizing experience of Descent, I invite you to imagine sinking deeply into a body of water. Remember the scene from The Graduate when Ben Braddock (the title character played by Dustin Hoffman) is overwhelmed by his conflicting feelings and relationships, so he dives into a backyard pool and lets himself sink to the bottom? He stays there as long as he can in this depth domain, performing a sort of soul searching.

Try this in a bathtub.  You can fill your tub with bath bubbles (if you wish), with time apart from family or others, and sink back (not really putting your head under the water for so long!).  Imagine sinking to the bottom of a pool or of a lake or even of an Ocean. You can breathe, though; do make sure you give yourself this ability.

Now explore: what is ‘on your mind’ or heart?  What deep questions or decisions are you contemplating, do you need answers about from your own inner parts of Self or inner guidance?

I just did this exercise myself about an hour ago and loved it. When I asked my Self what I needed to better understand I found it is my fear of being alone in my retirement.  My dog Sophie was at the bathroom door and I knew she and my cats will be with me, but I do have a fear of leaving all my friends and outer spiritual community behind me in Colorado when I move in just over a year across country.

So I stayed in the tub, continuing to imagine being underwater like Ben in The Graduate. (Actually this turns out for me to be a very apt fictional analog, as I conceptualize retirement as a graduation from Academia as a professor.) I found my inner selves piping up about the various aspects of Self I could connect with in seeking new friends at my new location. I can connect with writers, and readers, and retired teachers; with pet lovers, Scrabble or other game players, hikers, neighbors and of course my family will mostly be closer, plus a highschool friend still there. Even further, the thought arose that through today’s social media, I don’t have to wait until I make this Big Move before connecting to seek out some like minded others.  I can find online networks and begin connecting even before I leave. I have a full year left to do so before I leave. This last awareness felt very liberating to me; an idea I had not focussed on very ‘deeply’ before now!

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pictures are from pixabay.com

And so, dear fellows, Go For It! I invite you to try this creative visualization technique, either in the tub or in any environment that allows you to engage in an active contemplation session.

I invite and welcome your comments and story!

Build a Bridge to Your Destiny

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Who Are You? How did you get where you are today? Where are you wanting to go from here? How will you get there?

Here’s a quick creative Tool to help you discover a pathway to a desired next step that you might feel it is too hard to attain:

On a piece of construction paper of a color you associate with Fulfillment, paste or draw an image of a BRIDGE. This can be any sort of bridge you choose, but make sure it is strong, a bridge that will definitely convey you from one side (where you are now) to another (where you wish to “belong”).

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You can place or draw images of where you are and of where you wish to arrive at as a destination on either side of the bridge.

On or above the Bridge Path itself, place action words, phrases or images that are actual steps or transitions you CAN make in the foreseeable future that can lead you clearly n the direction of your goal.

For example, “pay off debt” or “exercise 2 times per week” or “write a chapter outline” could be statements you write on the bridge.

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images are from pixabay.com

Then, DO THIS!  Place one action before you that  is easy to set into motion and let that motion carry you over the bridge, across a threshold to your desirable new state or condition.

I welcome YOUR comments or story!

Contemplative Hopping (Internal Threshold Crossing)

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Story 1:  Yogic Flying

Sometime in the late 1970’s, a group of Transcendental Meditation practitioners first stunned the world with their release of video (before the Web even!) demonstrating “yogic flying” or “hopping” while in a deep meditation state of consciousness. They would levitate and shift position on their mats apparently as an exercise of Mind over Body.

Yogic Fliers reveal that we are capable of controlling the body directly through thought or Mind. What else can we take away from their example?

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Story 2:  Conscious vs. “Unconscious” States of Consciousness

For a graduate school assignment in linguistic semantics one week, our professor asked us to compose better semantic accounts than standard dictionary references for a related set of terms.  I chose CONSCIOUS and UNCONSCIOUS and compiled a wide range of definitions in order to sort these out and arrive at a holistic semantic analysis. What I discovered was that any state of consciousness that is not “conscious” or a “waking state” perception or experience people tend to lump together under the very large umbrella of “unconscious” in American English parlance.

Included under the far-reaching semantic domain of “unconscious”: unconscious, subconscious, dream state, daydreams, ‘other side’, Mind, (unconscious) thought, brain synapses, Self, soul, precognition, memory, lack of awareness. What I noticed about this wide range of concepts is that, simply put, Americans comprehend on the whole very little about anything they cannot directly See, Hear, Taste, Smell or Touch. All the rest, which in my view is the whole-enchilada iceberg under that tiny tip of “conscious” sense awareness, is lumped together as “unconscious.”

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As one who has engaged in daily, active contemplation and dreamwork for at least 44 years, I have discovered that the “Inner” is much more vast and is much more open to exploration and freedom of experience than the “Outer” realm of matter and conscious awareness.  There are many (perhaps infinite) levels of consciousness beyond the outer physical senses and body, and you are free to explore this diverse multiplicity of states and levels of consciousness through various modes of meditation, contemplation, active imagination, dreamwork, prayer, paranormal investigation and/or mindfulness techniques.

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That which is BEYOND the physical body states is neither defined by the mind nor contained or controlled by the Brain.

Implications for Contemplative Hopping—Internal Threshold Crossing

Using Jung’s approach of active imagination, a mode of contemplative envisioning and inner action, I encourage you to try your beyond-the-physical wings!  You do have them, at least figuratively speaking.  Dreams of flying (with or without wings as they are usually not needed!) are a very common early mode of inner travel or shifting of attention inwardly.  Explore an inner landscape, for instance, of an outer place you will soon be visiting “out here.”  Or actively contemplate the results or consequences of some anticipated move or action by yourself or others.

When I  was to make a big move from Buffalo (East) to Arizona (‘Out West”)  some 38 years ago, every night I asked to be shown something about the life I was about to embark upon plus I asked questions to trouble shoot this grand adventure. I was shown four people I would later meet (independently of one another) along with some glimpse of their role in my upcoming life.  I was also shown that  the experience would not be without its hardships but they would be necessary (karmic, let’s say), and when I later experienced what was foretold in these dreams very directly, I had been forewarned so was better prepared to meet the challenges.

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images are from pixabay.com

Let’s call your active inner explorations (past, present or future) to be forms of inner Threshold Crossing. I like to say, you don’t have to die or nearly die in order to explore the Heavens as well as really anything/ any state your Heart desires. Sages like the poet Rumi, actually, encourage us to “die daily.” This means you have the spiritual freedom to explore and investigate beyond the limited reaches of brain-mind or body.

See? I welcome your comments and stories!

Cross the Threshold to Your Greatest Adventure

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The greatest adventure is living life fully in the NOW (see “Alternate Futurescapes” recent post). Now then, the NOW is not necessarily but does include the Present of time-space. NOWness as well includes your own Past and Future lived and liveable experience (as arrays of possibilities) and the total range of possibility arcs in this lifetime, in parallel (e.g. ‘past or future lives’) and in the mulitiverse at large! Have I blown your mind yet? What the heck am I suggesting here? Yes, that You, as a Soul divinely gifted with a capacity for perception and vision–i.e., your creative, active imagination, not just your mental memory banks or existing synaptic networks–are free to explore, examine, and create forms from formless substances; you as Soul are indeed a Creator of and in your own worlds.

So, I encourage you to exercise your innate freedom of consciousness! You needn’t hesitate to daydream, and pay attention to your nighttime revelations as well as to those waking dreams that bring a message to you in the moment. If you were to lock your keys in your car, for example, how might that be a waking dream for you? Maybe it is telling you to pay closer attention, or not to close yourself out of a potential vehicle for moving forward. Take that job offer, for instance, when this sort of waking dream symbol occurs.

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images are from pixabay.com

Crossing the threshold to your Greatest Adventure signifies living your life to its fullest potentials, Now, and Now too, and also NOW! In this sense the nature of your life event may be less important than how you experience, frame or respond to it.

Life is transitory: its constructs of imagery, form and emotions ebb and flow as your consciousness focuses or directs your attention (or else as we react, based on former constructions; so, far better the former).

So now, take heed and celebrate every blessed moment, not only in this lifetime you are creating but in the Wholeness of Life Itself.  The mystic sages tell us, and I do believe, that in the most ultimate awareness of truth, Life of Itself is only LOVE.

Love (or, Spirit) is: “…that thread, so fine as to be invisible, yet so strong as to be unbreakable — which binds together all beings in all the worlds of God, in all universes, throughout all time, and beyond time into eternity.” (Paul Twitchell, The Shariyat-Ki-SUGMAD, Book 1).

I enjoy and welcome your Comments. I also invite you to send your own stories on these themes that I will post or reblog with a byline for you, by sending them to my email at lwatts@uccs.edu.

Draw a Cornmeal Line (Don’t Look Back!)

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Pueblo Native American cultures (e.g. Hopi, San Juan and Zuni) of New Mexico and Arizona have strong traditions for ‘drawing a line’ between that which has ended and that which continues forward. This takes several forms in ceremonial use and is very evident when a person has died, transcending this surface plane to move on to higher worlds spiritually. Because the emotional bond is so strong among family and loved ones, at a ceremony a cornmeal line is scattered on the earth to signify that the departed shall go on spiritually while the bereaved must allow that spirit to go on and let them go. Otherwise the deceased Soul might want to linger and visit their loved ones psychically and the bereaved might be tempted to follow their loved one to the other side.

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To cross a threshold from one domain of life experience to a new Life Chapter full of ripe opportunities, it is important to draw that line, to make a clean departure or separation; to not look back once you have committed to your new direction forward.

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For example as I prepare to retire in just over a year now, to launch a second career around writing and services related to Life Path mapping (see sidebar), it is hard not to let doubts belay my forward progress. Shall I really retire to a lakeside community where just this past month I was beset by a throng of pest invaders? Maybe I should just sell the house but relocate in my present Colorado town: easier, safer?

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But, no! Life carries us forward and we must discern Its directions and accept and walk upon the path that opens up before us based on our own life purpose and mission. I must trust in Spirit, relying upon all the insights gained along the way.

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So yesterday I did an Alternate Futurescapes journaling myself (see previous post). I still envision myself (in most of the alt-scenarios, not all) moving to the lakeside community, but now it is to a recently built or well-maintained, very pest resistant sort of home, maybe a condominium or town home with homeowners fees that tend to pests regularly, or I could buy land and place a modular or a cabin on that. Anyway, my experience was a wake-up call for self (and pet) protection and vigilance, but it was not a barrier to stepping forth, come what may, to Live My Dream.

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images are from pixabay.com

So, draw a cornmeal line. Say your goodbyes, allow the past to pass while you turn your shoulders, brace against any inclement symbolic winds, and step cleanly and fully forward into your next step, the next Life Chapter of your mythically charged Life Story.

I welcome your comments and stories!

Alternate Futurescapes: A Crossing-the-Threshold Tool

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As Shakti Gawain presented in her excellent book, Creative Visualization, it can be of utmost value to put into practice your divine gift of Imagination when you wish to manifest positive attitudes and experiences in your life. The quality of your consciousness affects your capacity to create the life of your dreams, and you are responsible and therefore free to establish and maintain a positive state of consciousness.

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In my book YOUR LIFE PATH, I will be providing 75 self-discovery Tools you can engage with as a life mapping process that will let you review your Life Story; reflect on your Life Themes, Life Chapters and your archetypal parts of Self; and also engage in future prospecting or what I like to call Future Casting.

One fun Future Casting technique to help transport you via creative visualization to Cross the Threshold into a desirable future is to journal or creatively represent in any medium a set of Alternate Futurescapes:

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Write in first person (I), present tense(from assuming a NOW perspective)about a possible future that is desirable to you because it fulfills your sense of your Life Purpose, Values, and Goals. Describe the conditions you have established in this Futurescape of your fertile imagining. Where are you, what are you doing, what relationships and activities are prominent in this Future dream-come-true. Describe in detail the distinctive features of your Future landscaoe of consciousness. The more descriptive you can be, the more you can assume a perspective within this possible future; the more of a probability it becomes!

Now then, envision a different alternate futurescape, maybe one even more desirable than the first, more ideal. Or imagine where you will arrive if something you need to change currently you do not change. Write several of these Futurescape scenarios, perhaps limiting yourself to one page each.

Later, look back at these Alternate Futurescape scenarios you have described. Are there some common denominator factors that your more desirable futures share? Can you further envision a pathway to bring about the most desirable future conditions you have imagined?

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images are from pixabay.com

If you can conceive of a desirable future you can perceive a path to attain that.

I welcome your Comments and I invite you to share your stories!

Making a True Departure / Shifting to Here-Now

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I recognize a distinction between the Present as a current moment in time-space and the Here-Now as a spiritual focus. The NOW experienced in contemplative spiritual practice is a liberating orientation while the notion of Present from a time-space frame of reference is artificial and can be self-limiting. It is a matter of perspective or more accurately it depends upon where you place your attention. If we accept, as I do, that time is an illusion or an artifice of context, then as we shift our focus of attention such as to look ahead with creative visualization or to re-envision a former state of being by reactivating a stored memory, we can focus our consciousness in such a manner as to alter our Present reality. From this angle, the Past is NOW, the Present is NOW, and the Future is also available NOW.

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When I was first in college in Buffalo, New York, I had a friend Ann who was an artist specializing in sculpture. Ann created this amazing piece of conceptual art which was comprised of a five foot tall vertical array of multicolored fabric cords with simply a one foot tall plexiglass tube around them. The art was interactive so it invited you to change the position of the tube up or down along the colored cords, slightly compressing the bundle of colors as you would shift the transparent tube. To me this has always been an excellent metaphor for the practice of contemplation or active imagination. We simply shift our consciousness from Here-Now to another Here-Now to OBSERVE; we focus our locus of attention as we choose. We thus can place and activate our consciousness in any dimension of Nowness at will.

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pictures are frompixabay.com

Locked within a Time orientation, the Present is a bubble from which we never seem able to escape. The freedom to Act is in the Now. To bring about a true change of life conditions as in realizing a desired future that is a true departure from present conditions requires only a subtle shifting of your attention to a Now of your imagining.

See?

I welcome your comments and viewpoint.

Crossing the Threshold

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I attended my dear mother Betty’s early-90th birthday gathering along with 17 family, caregivers and friends this past Saturday. Mom has been enduring the ravages of late stage Parkinsons for several years in an excllent nursing home facility in Western New York. Those of you following theis blog can appreciate how wonderful it was that I could be there with Mom and family at this amazing event that my sisters planned and orchestrated beautifully with great love. After a month’s road trip during which I encountered all manner of what I’ve been calling here “creepy crawly threshold guardians” I actually fled for home with my car and dog in 3 days to deliver my dog Sophie safely (and to separate us from affecting one another plus to deal again with the car)to Colorado. Then my sister graced me from her frequent flying miles to bring me by air right back to Western New York!

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Long story short, I can happily report that this after-the-trip trip has resulted in much better health, happiness and encouragement. My family is tremendous. The birthday gathering was all and much more than planned! My sister set Mom’s wheelchair in the center of a worship area room at her nursing home. We formed a semi-circle around her (and the strawberry cheesecake and cards and decorations). My other of 3 sisters had created/ published a beautiful book and slideshow from over 350 photos of Mom and our family from her birth to now. The slideshow ran continuously on a laptop accompanied by a soundtrack of Mom and our favorite songs.

“You are my Sunshine” is a favorite of favorites that we sing to Mom, and she sings along as best she is able! “My Bonnie lies over the Ocean” and Elvis tunes were also in the mix. For a couple of hours we celebrated Betty, our mother, sister, aunt, grandmother and great-grandmother, and Friend. She was fully with us the entire time and even came to full waking clarity for another hour or so afterwards in her room with my sisters and brother-in-law and me for a short while.(Usually she can stay alert and awake for only minutes at a time or through a fed mealtime encounter with her nurses.) When I had a few minutes of alone time with her before I needed to leave, she stared open eyed and we exchanged a loving moment.

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“You survived!” she uttered clearly.
“I survived,” I answered gratefully. I told her how much I and all of us love her. I said, “After all of this trip I realize that Family is more important than anything!” (I will be retiring to be closer to my family in a bit over a year now. The trip has only reinforced this resolve.)

So, this entire trip which has also included some amazingly positive experiences including a final format editing of my book manuscript which I will send to the publisher today or tomorrow and meeting/sharing with some wonderful new friends including a B&B owner/ EMT and two new wonderful friends who are publicists forming a team with me and my agent around this project, has finally resolved to the rim of a Threshold Crossing. I have met daunting challenges impeding my progress but I have survived and continue to advance. I arrived at the destination of my mother’s pre-90th birthday. We all laughed and sang, hugged and updated. We shall progress only forward from Here!

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pictures are from pixabay.com

Continue reading

Beware the Naysayers

My cross country trip is still ongoing, and in fact after booking for home to deliver my dog safely and visit a doctor, I am actually on a flight this morning right back to New York State. My entire family is gathering to celebrate an early 90th birthday for my mother, Elizabeth (Betty), and I do not want to miss this big event.I am still not 100 percent recovered from the ordeals of this trip, but I am going anyway.

I do hope I have met the tests and challenges of the threshold Guardians well enough to find resolution and restore my body’s health fully soon. I am still taking every necessary precaution and hoping the harsh lotions do their healing work and ebb in their harshness soon. I have a threshold to Cross this next month and need the fortitude and enthusiasm to accomplish that.

To wind up this month’s discussion of the phase of a hero cycle involving the encounter with threshold guardians, allow me to mention two common varieties: Naysayers and Gatekeepers. You might encounter either or both along your Journey’s Quest.

When I was in grad school, and since then as a professor, I became aware of an almost guaranteed stage a student will experience in the course of pursuing their academic—and personal life—dreams. Invariably as they approach their threshold of commencing on a major task or study (E.g a dissertation or thesis venture) there will be someone who challenges their goal.

“Are you really going to try to do your study at Zuni Pueblo?” These Naysayers would ask. “They don’t like White people. They will never talk with you!”

Or, “Your idea is too big / too small… it will take too long… maybe you should try something easier, or different.”

But you know what I observed? Those enterprising students who refused to be deterred by their appointed Naysayers were those who succeeded to graduate in the field of their choice. Those who could be swayed very often did not finish with the program or degree they were seeking to obtain.

And then there are the Gatekeepers. You know of these and perhaps you are yourself in a role that serves as a gatekeeper for others, too. The gatekeeper minds the entranceway to a role or status opportunity. S/he sets or upholds the standards of admission. I remember when my best high school friend, Barb, came from a guidance counselor visit having been told, “You are not college material.” Yet Barbara was the school’s most talented artist. She went on to become a sought after wax figure sculptor who has peopled whole museums as well as a line of period wax dolls. Once later she took a college class just to investigate that direction. She excelled but was bored by the academic approach. She could have accomplished much in that direction had she chosen to, but then again perhaps Spirit had other plans which the Gatekeeper unwittingly opened.
If you are in a position to be a Gatekeeper fir others this is a sacred responsibility. Say YES as often as you can. Encourage the Aspirant to engage in meaningful self reflection rather than imposing what might be your own feelings of self limitation upon them.

The approach of Life Path Mapping which I will be providing with my upcoming book, YOUR LIFE PATH, is all about encouraging you to review, reflect, and then steer or if necessary redirect your life course so that you will absolutely Live Your Dream, Now! This month I intend to deliver the manuscript to the publisher; that is the Threshold I aim to cross during this next phase of my own Hero Cycle Quest!

Guard Your Own Threshold (My Creepy Crawly Road Trip, Part 3)

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For those of you who have been reading the blog this month, I am still on my road trip with my dog Sophie, and hopefully I am on track for overcoming the creepy crawly scourge we have encountered since day one, Feb 25, of bed bugs, hair and body lice, and tiny brown mites… oh yeah, and possibly dog mites too. My body as well as Sophie’s show the scars of the engagement. I am using lotions, meds and showers to try to regain a  balance, and today (yay) I am taking Sophie to a vet who will know what to do. (Previous vets have not found the root of the problem since her mites are burrowed, not actively moving about.)

The hopeful turning point phase began about six nights ago when I started taping rolls of sticky lint paper at the bottom of the bathroom door to sleep protected in there, keeping the mites in the bedroom. Then I realized turnabout is fair play, as I have now become the threshold guardian of my own and my dog companion Sophie’s bodies/ skins. Four nights ago while waiting for an Orkin treatment to be fully effective, I went out to Walmart, bought two tarps and a mummy sleeping bag and I  slept one night at least on the bed again, free of the tiny brown ones.

Yet even the next night a new patrol of tiny white specks  cropped up from apparently the fibers of the freshly laundered sleeping bag, nipping where they appeared. I almost succumbed to total surrender at this latest foray, but I got up, took a shower and used that magical wand of a lint roller to start picking these critters up as they surfaced. I continue that vigilance since moving to a hotel.

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Guarding your own threshold means stand up for yourself against all would be attackers who seek to feed off of your own good nature and integrity. You have a right to the sanctity of your own personhood and space. “One’s freedom ends where another’s begins” is a spiritual principle as stated by Harold Klemp, the spiritual leader of Eckankar. I get it now; that works in both directions.

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images are from pixabay.com

On a happier note, I had two wonderful days meeting with the team of publicists from Scribes Unlimited, Paula and Paul, this past two days, as we are preparing to  launch and make available to the general public my book, Your Life Path, with its related life mapping services. Pretty soon you will be able to link from this blog to an interactive site about Life Path Mapping, podcasts and all!

I welcome all of  your comments, help…,and stories.

The Reluctant Host: Creepy Crawly Threshold Guardians, Part Two

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So my road trip continues and so does my encounter with creepy crawly Threshold Guardians. Pernicious. Now I am under treatment for head lice, body lice and am trying to thwart tiny bedbug or mite babies that show up all around me and some take haven in my skin.

But I and my allies are fighting back. I guess some Threshold Guardians require not humility or surrender so much as vigilant opposition.

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Pictures are from Pixabay.com

I am grateful to be alive. Last night I slept rolled in a sheet on a bathroom floor to avoid the bed. For the first night in weeks I dreamed.

Tomorrow the Orkin man comes and today I am bombing the car and getting mattress covers with zippers and 91 percent alcohol spray. I have cortisone cream and a lotion for the lice. For now I am sitting at a Paneras to write this and do some other writing and school work while a snow storm builds.

Life marches on, even under duress.

Life is a blessing.

Creepy Crawly Threshold Guardians

 

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It’s never easy, is it, when you are persisting toward a major goal? Yet so worthwhile!

Currently I am on a one month writing retreat and scouting visit to the area I will retire to in about 16 months. But Sunday, I experienced a reprisal of bug bites apparently from the hotel on my first night of the road trip. This time the bites were from under a sleeve of a shirt that was not packed in the luggage used at the hotel, but in an adjacent duffle bag in the car. So I washed and disinfected everything I could. Yet the next day while putting a laundered mattress cover back onto a bed, another patch of apparent bites suddenly appeared!

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Ironically through this adversity which I see as a Threshold Guardian moment, I have been working even harder at the computer, moving forward with my final manuscript formatting and editing. The work is interspersed with dealing with the issue, for sure, because I feel responsible to do all that I can to protect my health, my dog, and the house I’m renting. But when I get to the computer, I welcome the opportunity to focus on this task of love and care.

Here are some common sayings about Threshold Guardians:

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going”;

“Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”; and

“The darkest night is always before the dawn.”

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images are from pixabay.com

So often in fiction as in life, to succeed we must encounter and overcome obstacles. Persistence in the face of adversity brings greater clarity, determination and focus.

I welcome your Comments and Stories!

Next time: Naysayers

Threshold Guardians

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After Heeding the Call and setting forth with your well-considered Departure, you are set to approach the first Threshold so you can Cross the Threshold into the full engagement with your Adventure to achieve your Quest. But wait! It is not quite so easy as that.  Approaching the Threshold of a deeply  significant transition or a personally meaningful adventure invokes Threshold Guardians!  Only if you can pass by these daunting agencies or meet challenges designed to strengthen your weaknesses will you in fact step across that Threshold better equipped to meet your challenges successfully and realize your dreams.

Threshold Guardians are common archetypal character forms found in many a mythic tale.  The Never-Ending Story represents them as monolithic, winged Gargoyle figures guarding the entryway to  Bastian‘s destination. He must pass their enigmatic questioning in order to rescue his Princess and prevent the Nothing from spreading to annihilate all of his mythical world.  Scylla and Charybdis are rocky shoals that block Odysseus’s path to complete his Quest and return to home to Ithaka in Homer’s Ulysses. Dorothy faces winged monkeys sent by the Wicked Witch to deter her progress.  So then, what are some of your own Threshold Guardians and how have they served you or how can they aid you in completing your own mythic Quest?

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Boundary Gremlins

In Your Life Path (see sidebar), I will share a story about a significant dream from a few years ago in which I visited a ‘high altitude’  region inhabited by beautiful winged horses which I felt served God-realized Masters in the far reaches of the Heavens. As I approached the boundary of their realm, excited to witness this, suddenly Gremlins appeared! Honestly I had never even known what gremlins might look like until after I woke from this dream, but there they were: little, broad faced imps with huge ears. They popped up along the boundary to prevent me from stepping into this rarifed realm of the Horses of Heaven.

Recognizing that these Gremlins were doing their own valuable work in this realm I had stumbled upon in my dreaming, I stepped back and knelt down at a respectful distance from the boundary. I felt grateful to have witnessed this realm at all and content to just be there for a moment. The Gremlins were not apparent then but I knew they would pop up again if I were to try to advance.

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images are from pixabay.com

Behind me in this heightened inner realm, two winged Pegasus horses arrived, returning from their heavenly missives. One, white-pink-bluish, knelt gracefully onto her front legs beside me. I knew this was her invitation, and so I climbed up onto her bare back and held lightly onto a shock of her white mane as she stepped across the Threshold of the boundary into her domain.

I woke immediately, humbled and deeply impressed by this encounter with the Horses of Heaven! I realized the Gremlins were Threshold Guardians.  I needed great purity of heart, deep humility in order to venture into this sacred realm.

What or Who Are Your Threshold Guardians?

Your Threshold Guardians will be appropriate to the Quest and to the Threshold you aim to cross so you can achieve your own heroic purpose. I invite you to share YOUR story of Threshold Guardians. What qualities do they help you better master in order to advance to realize your Purpose?

On the Road Again!

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As this month winds down with its theme of Departure, I am en route for an exciting adventure. I will write this post as a travelogue, to reflect on the experience of Departure.

Before (Wed., Feb 22):

This trip is to be a microcosm of a much bigger departure in my life. It is a preparation for launching both my upcoming book activity and my graduation–er, retirement–in around a year and a half. I am traveling to the location I have chosen to live in for the next major stage of my life as I shift focus from teaching as a primary activity to writing and coaching as primary. As well, I am seeking to live the life of my dreams, just as I am offering to others with my book about Life Path Mapping, to be titled, YOUR LIFE PATH. For me in addition to life as an author and coach, this will allow living by a lake with my pets, nearer to family and located in proximity to a wide array of opportunities for travel as well as for extended career ventures.

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So this is to be a true Departure with full double entrendre: a leaving from one place to arrive at another physical location but more importantly as well, departing from life as I have known it to Now in order to embark upon a life changing Adventure.  I am driving my new car which I selected for this future activity, a Subaru Cross Trek which I have nicknamed Scout. And that is what this journey is set up to be: a scouting trip.

En Route (Monday, Feb. 27)

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In Ohio now, third night of the Road Trip. It has certainly been an adventure already. I was plagued with an attack of blood sucking bugs on my first night out (Saturday)–apparently not exactly bed bugs but possibly chiggers. After ravaging my back, legs and neck, they left a very strange (to me) stain of gloppy orange-blood goo on the bedspread!  What was this about?

Challenging obstacles test our mettle. The process of encountering hardship and overcoming the difficulties is part and parcel of a growth experience.  The bug bite scenario led me to wash all my clothes at the next stop (fortunately at my friend Pam’s home in Iowa) and to throw away my carry on luggage, to divest of potential deterrents. I have also showered twice and bathed my dog Sophie. Is this a cleansing in preparation for the rest of the journey?

Yet to Come (musing Monday night, prior to arrival at the main locations of my travels)

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I like to set goals for a cross-country adventure, and this trip is chock full of purposes and intended outcomes. Quoting from my dear departed Grandmother Rugh (and her from Robert Frost):

“I have promises to keep,

and miles to go before I sleep.”

On this trip I will be conducting a full month’s writing retreat at a rental home in the lakeside community I will retire to not this but next summer. By the end of this stay, I aim to send out the final manuscript to the publisher for my book. I’ll be putting on final touches of format, aiming to deliver this book as a missive, the product of over a decade and a half of development and writing. I am blessed to have publicists to visit during this stay; you may see  evidence at this site of changes reflecting the preparation for eventually launching the book. I love that this has become a more team oriented project over time, since meeting a wonderful, encouraging Agent nearly 5 years ago, to following her inspiration to constantly improve upon the product for the prospective reading public, to securing a contract and procuring a publicizing agency with people as wonderful as my Agent is, to enlisting a great friend who is expert at graphics and another with a professional editing past, and sharing all of this process with friends, colleagues, and family too.

This ends the Departure phase as tomorrow I’ll begin the full encounter with the mythic stuff of the adventure itself. It will begin by visiting my mother at her nursing home tomorrow. Nearly ninety and with late stage Parkinson’s, Mom is one who is forging her Life Path  day by day now, showing all of us that pain and infirmity are less important to her than life itself; perhaps rather I should say, than love itself.  Her endurance is an act of love for all her family and friends. I hope deeply that there is even more than meets the eye to her lingering life experience. I feel she is already in the course of a beautiful inner transformation in ways not obvious to us from the outside. I hope she is preparing spiritually for the best leap forward in Crossing the Threshold to her next life that she possibly can; like the Monarch butterfly gradually emerging from her chrysalis.

May I be so fortunate as to give my All to life and to the Spirit in All; or rather, to immerse as a vehicle for Love Itself!

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images are gratefully from pixabay.com

I welcome your Comments and Stories!

 

 

 

Prepare Well for Your Departure

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Every one of the incremental phases of a Hero’s Adventure (click here for the Monthly Topics tab) holds an archetypal Frame of its own, meaning it is embued with a special power by its categorical/ culturally patterned nature. Departure is a ‘thing’ as well as part of the longer process it initiates. So let’s consider here how does one successfully Depart?  I would say from experience that a good Departure requires a mindful, spiritually and psychologically deep approach in order to facilitate a highly successful Adventure.

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Some 39 years ago in 1978 I initiated a Departure from everything I had known. I would take a leap into the Unknown by moving West, from Buffalo, New York to Tempe, Arizona to enter graduate school.  I was leaving so I could study Native American languages and cultures in the Southwest setting so appropriate to that objective. I was to leave family, friends, and all my familiar Eastern environments and weather to go to the Desert and start anew.

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The preparation for departure was quite a long process of nearly two years.  I first took a cross-country bus trip with a dear spiritual friend, Grace. And such an adventure that trip became!  The bus broke down so we were rerouted through Sedona, a mecca of sorts for me at the time as my spiritual group had land there we got to visit.  Plus I met new friends and together we faced the possibility of there being a murderer(signaled by a police woman’s warning) who boarded in Albuquerque, causing me to sink into one of the deepest contemplations of my life—altering my consciousness altogether by the time we arrived in Sedona. (He got off in Flagstaff with his traveling partner, saying: “Goodbye, New Mexico, forever!” To me, when I addressed him after spreading the rumor around the bus as to whom he might be, he had said: “So, how do you feel about YOUR life?”)

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This trip primed me for a love of the Southwest, and I spent the next year in Buffalo preparing for the Big Adventure. I plastered beautiful photographs from Sedona Life magazine all over my office wall.  I asked questions of my Inner Guide nightly in contemplations, e.g.: “Should I really make such a big move?” “Will I be okay?”

Every night then I would dream and in the dream I would be shown an answer to my question. For example one night I asked, “But what about Chela (my beloved Cat companion)? How can she make such a long trip in an overcrowded car with me?”  That night I dreamed I was driving a van across country to Arizona, and in the back, stretched out contentedly on a blanket covering a Player Piano that was musically soothing her, was Chela.

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One morning about six months prior to my departure to the Southwest, I woke with a musical ditty on my mind:

I’m leaving

But there are a few doors left to close

Before I get over there.

For the next six months, that lyric and melody became a daily mantra for me. I came to realize I needed to smooth out some rough edges in my relationships, for instance, and this ditty helped me do that mindfully and with clear intent.

The time came. I packed up my ’66 red convertible Buick Special that my father had gifted me, packed with all the belongings I would carry, and my dear Chela. A friend, Cathy, accompanied us, as she had friends in Mesa, Arizona I would stay with temporarily until I could get situated near the campus at Arizona State University.  We only made one stop along the way, in Colorado Springs at the Garden of the Gods, where I walked Chela and admired the red rocks there which are so similar to the red rocks of Sedona. (Fourteen years later, guess where I moved to teach after graduating with my doctorate? Yes, Colorado Springs, where I have remained ever since.)

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The move to Arizona went exceedingly well. I cried one torrential outpour of tears about two days after reaching there, releasing my pain and fear and grief over leaving everything and everyone familiar to me up til then. But then I met new friends—several of whom I had been shown in those premonition dreams back in Buffalo—and I embarked upon my studies that helped me eventually build a successful, exciting career as an anthropologist.

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images are from pixabay.com

So consider, how shall you PREPARE for your DEPARTURE?  Give this pregnant phase of your Adventure all the loving attention and all the time and dreaming you can invest.  Contemplate where your departure can take you. Prepare for the life you are creating for yourself with this golden opportunity.

Then, Go with Spirit, my friends!  Enjoy your most beautiful Adventure!