Create Your GRAIL Collage

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images are from pixabay.com

What is your Sacred Calling, your Holy GRAIL for this life? Create a collage representing your Life Dream as an Elixir such as the Grail at the center of a mandala sort of composition.  Represent on your pictorial collage as well: How you will achieve your Grail, and what will result from your reaching this level of personal fulfillment.

You can simply find images online (I recommend pixabay.com for free, common domain images, or clip art), or paste in your own photos or scanned magazine clippings to represent your ideas. Here is my Grail Collage from this week, below.

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I welcome YOUR pictures or story!

Marry Your Future, with a Vision Board!

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Maybe this is a bit of a stretch for our topic this month of The Sacred Marriage, but I find myself sitting at my office desk and looking at my bulletin board that I realize I have turned into a Vision Board.  I have embarked upon my final year of teaching before publishing my book, Your Life Path, and then retiring and relocating to focus full-time on writing and life mapping services.

I pilot every life mapping tool that I will be introducing with this book, and the art of “future casting” is a big part of this approach.  Any form of creative envisioning of what I like to call your future Lifescapes can be helpful to you in manifesting the life conditions you desire to express.

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On my Vision Board bulletin board I have the poem Ithaca by Cavafy (You can click on the Youtube video embedded below, narrated by Sean Connery!):

I also have a collage of images that represent my journey ahead to realize my Life Dream.  It shows my future ambitions and goals:

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To create your own Vision Board, simply imagine!  What CORE VALUES do you intend (not simply wish for or hope to do, but INTEND) to establish in your future Dream Come True?  Even if your most desirable future is the life you are living Now, what core values are you manifesting that you intend to extend and embellish further on the road ahead?

Goal setting is not about–or need not involve, anyway–LINEAR THINKING.  By focussing on VALUES rather than specific, material objectives, you remain open and flexible to however the Universe or Spirit fills your mold.

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You can write your future values or conditions you intend to live into onto a poster board or in Publisher on a blank page on your computer. Then find (or draw or paint in) pictures online or in magazines that represent these values and conditions, and place them on your Vision Board in a manner that feels right to you. You can also cut out or cut and paste words and phrases onto your collage.

I like to create my Future Casting Collages (BTW, do several! The future is not cast in stone!) to represent my pathway from where I am Now to the future Now I aim to create around me.

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images (other than my own) are from pixabay.com

I invite and welcome your Comments and Stories!

I would invite your collages to share, but actually I recommend you hold these close and share them mainly with your loved ones. Your VISION is your own; nurture it well and it will be!

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!

Celebrate Your Mentors!

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What have you learned from the Mentors in your life, and from when you have mentored others? A mentor is a Teacher (of the TEACHER Archetype), yet the Mentor is a specific kind of a Teacher; one who imparts Wisdom, not just knowledge on a subject. So the Mentor is often paired archetypally as a TEACHER/MYSTIC character, such as Gandalf in Lord of the Rings, Glinda in The Wizard of Oz, or Dumbledore at Hogwarts.

This week I invite you to make a list of some of your primary Mentors.  I encourage you to contemplate and/or journal about their influences on “the person you have become.”

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I will share about just one of several key mentors from my life; I will call her Dr. T, or Bonnie. Bonnie was a philosophy professor at my undergraduate college. I first met her while I was a student in a class on Creative Studies. She was a guest professor that day who was to speak with us about the philosophy of creativity. I arrived a half hour early to our class that day (held in a lounge sort of area where we students often liked to ‘hang out’ even apart from classes there).  Dr. T. was already there, too, sitting with a student who majored in art and who had brought a papier mache figure of a human being he had created in an art class that day.

“How the *x*x* did you do that!?”

These were the first words I ever heard uttered by Dr. T.

“I mean, I could never do that; how could YOU?”

She persisted. The student was stunned, as was I, at this encounter. Soon others arrived and the class began.  Bonnie proceeded to explain her profound appreciation for the creative process this student had drawn upon to envision and then manifest his vision in an artistic form. From that day on I became fascinated with Dr. T. I took several philosophy classes with her and several Independent Study classes as well. I even came to mother-sit for Bonnie’s elderly mother for two or three years before I graduated and left Buffalo for Arizona.

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Of many insightful lessons I learned from my Mentor, here are two:

Dr. T. took a nap every afternoon at her old-style, stone and oak Buffalo house. She slept in a small room on a single bed like a cot. One day she told me:

“Every day, I swim in the Ocean!”

I remember her telling me this one wintry Buffalo afternoon when I had arrived to mother-sit.  I understood she was telling me that she dove into a deep contemplative state every day with her nap.

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Another time she told me how when her son was young, one day while they were sitting under an oak tree in a park, she picked up an acorn and asked her son to hold it in his hand.

“There is God!,” Bonnie proclaimed.

From then on I understood why she had furnished her home completely with used oak furniture from Salvation Army. She loved the sturdy Oak Tree as a symbol of mature spiritual wisdom.

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images are from pixabay.com

After I left for graduate school in Arizona, I touched base a few times with Dr. T., but sparingly.  One time she told me she had started painting with oils in her retirement.  Like Van Gogh, she told me, she painted with full tubes of paint instead of with brushes. A local gallery had held a showing of her works. To the end Bonnie expressed her passion as a spiritual Being fully and with gusto!

How the *x*x* did she do that? I have ever since emulated Dr. Bonnie’s integrity and drive to create, to thrive, to truly BE.

I invite YOUR Comments and Story!

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“So She had Outdanced Thought”…Go with the Flow

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I was listening on National Public Radio this past week to a discussion about Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s TED talk theme of “Flow” (http://www.npr.org/2015/04/17/399806632/what-makes-a-life-worth-living).  The neuropsychologist explains that the brain can process no more than something like 120 bits of information at a time. The more closely we focus on some activity, the less we are aware of many surrounding conditions or facts that might otherwise vie for our attention. When we are working with great concentration on something we dearly love—like a work of art, giving a performance onstage, writing, or competing at a sports event, we enter “the Flow,” effectively transcending space and time altogether while absorbed in this all-consuming activity in the Now.

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The NPR journalist associated this transcendent experience of “flow” with Abraham Maslow’s notion of a “peak experience.”  I know this concept quite well both as a writer and from when I was a competitive Fencer. I recall quite well one fencing tournament in Tucson, Arizona. I was so focused on being centered and fencing from that Center at that particular tournament that when I fenced, I won every bout 4-0 (and the tournament) and yet I hardly even knew what had just occurred when I stepped off from the fencing strip. The actions themselves had become almost “automatic”: advance/ retreat, attack / parry-riposte, etcetera were not consciously engaged but happened spontaneously from that Center. …”What a rush!” one might say, when this happens!

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Poetry is a medium that brings out my own artistic nature or my ARTIST Archetype Ally, that part of Self that I gratefully share consciousness with to better appreciate form, color, balance, and Nature.  One of my favorite poems from my favorite poet, W. B.Yeats, expresses poignantly the transcendent Flow of the Artist; in this case, in his dream of three Figures: “A Buddha, hands at rest / Hand lifted up that blessed; A Sphinx, head erect, in triumph of intellect… ; and “right between these two a girl that danced”.  Here are the relevant verses from part II of “The Double Vision of Michael Robartes” (from http://www.yeatsvision.com/Doublevision.html ) :

II
On the grey rock of Cashel I suddenly saw
A Sphinx with woman breast and lion paw,
A Buddha, hand at rest,
Hand lifted up that blest;And right between these two a girl at play
That, it may be, had danced her life away,
For now being dead it seemed
That she of dancing dreamed.Although I saw it all in the mind’s eye
There can be nothing solider till I die;
I saw it by the moon’s light
Now at its fifteenth night.One lashed her tail; her eyes lit by the moon
Gazed upon all things known, all things unknown,
In triumph of intellect
With motionless head erect.

That other’s moonlit eyeballs never moved,
Being fixed on all things loved, all things unloved,
Yet little peace he had,
For all that love are sad.

O little did they care who danced between,
And little she by whom her dance was seen
So she had outdanced thought.
Body perfection brought,

For what but eye and ear silence the mind
With the minute particulars of mankind?
Mind moved yet seemed to stop
As ’twere a spinning-top.

In contemplation had those three so wrought
Upon a moment, and so stretched it out
That they, time overthrown,
Were dead yet flesh and bone.

III

I knew that I had seen, had seen at last
That girl my unremembering nights hold fast
Or else my dreams that fly
If I should rub an eye,

And yet in flying fling into my meat
A crazy juice that makes the pulses beat
As though I had been undone
By Homer’s Paragon

So what about you? When are you most in the Flow? How can you use this experience to channel your inner Artist and to accomplish your deepest ambitions?

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images from pixabay.com

ART to the RESCUE: A Popular Better Ending Theme

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One of my favorite all-time movies is the original “An Affair to Remember” with Deborah Kerr and Cary Grant. Of course it is a highly romantic tale of star-crossed lovers who find each other on an ocean cruise while both are otherwise engaged with the ‘wrong’ people back on land.  What interests me this month as we are exploring the ARTIST archetype is how in “An Affair to Remember,” it is the ARTIST to the rescue, to save the day and make sure not only that these two destined lovers marry, but more importantly, that each is able to manifest their fullest potentials.(Click to see scenes at  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0050105/ )

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Nikkie Ferrante, global playboy about to marry for money to perpetuate his high living lifestyle, is in reality a frustrated Dreamer, an Artist.  Meeting Terry McKay, who teaches voice in New York City to children, brings Nikkie face to face and heart to heart with his true inner calling, not just to marry Miss McKay but to return to his Art at any cost in order to support a family on his own. When these two promise to meet after six months at the top of the Empire State building to forego their prior engagements and declare their love for each other so they may marry, Nikkie gives up his aim to ‘marry into money’ and live off his wife’s inheritance and he vows instead to be an ARTIST, destitute if need be, even alone if that must be what occurs after the six month hiatus.

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It is also quite literally Art to the rescue in the pivotal scene at the end, when Nikkie visits Terry to bring a gift of a shawl from his deceased Aunt after he and Terry have become estranged. He had been there at the Empire State building and believed that Terry was not, although the audience is quite aware Terry was hit by a car and crippled on her way to their meeting place:

“I was looking up; it was the nearest thing to Heaven. You were there!”

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Terry visits Nikkie at her apartment where she remains seated on her couch; it is only when Nikkie enters her bedroom and sees his own painting of Terry wearing his Aunt’s shawl (which he was told had been purchaesd by a lady in a wheelchair), that he understands. Terry also wanted her independence and to be true to herself; she needed to be able to walk before she would have sought out Nikkie on her own.

The song Terry coaches children to sing in the movie is about listening to one’s “conscience;” again, to be true to one’s innermost callings rather than taking the easy, obvious pathway in life.  Many people defray or submerge their own ARTIST’s WAY; that is, they may not listen to what their unconscious, archetypal ARTIST part of Self is trying to express, either to the world or to their own conscious sensibilities.

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images are from pixabay.com

Express your own Inner ARTIST’s Nature! What would it have you do today? In an important situation? Heed the Call!

I welcome your Comments and Stories!

The Artist’s Passion

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Why have so many well-known artists been plagued with depression or addictive personalities? Sometimes the strain of living with artistic sensibilities in a world that may seem better suited to pragmatism or materialistic reality can lead one to feel isolated, an outsider, never “fitting in” with normative expectations. Some might say if this is not a necessary outlook for an artist, it may at least seem helpful for the artist to be true to her/his own unique viewpoint.

Painters, writers, musicians, dancers, actors and others who center their lives around their Art contribute so much of beauty and insight so that others might grow from  absorbing the Artist’s perspective.  They fulfill an immeasurably valuable human service in this capacity.

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Each of us also contains within our Psyche our own ARTIST persona Archetype, which is informed by the history of Artists we have known.  As such, the ‘melancholy’ aspect we might culturally attribute to Artists in general can also affect the development or inhibition of our own artistic nature.

As all Archetypes have both positive, light-bearing or Strength facets as well as potential Shadow forms, let’s celebrate the ARTIST in others and in ourselves this month by embracing the totality of the ARTIST Archetype.

Think of one artist whose art (whether by painting, sculpture, music, dance, photography, writing or other forms) has been influential to your thinking or to your appreciation of life. What about this person allowed his or her art to reach such a heightened level as to become shared worldwide (if it is)? For example, on Sunday I mentioned Vincent Van Gogh, whose life certainly exemplifies the dynamic tension of “an artist”; his outlook helps us all to perceive life beneath the mere surfaces, striking at the vibrancy and passion of perception.  Whatever other factors may have been influential, such as possibly lead in the paint he used, Vincent ultimately sacrificed his very life for the sake of his artistic passions.

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A better ending envisioning for an Artist’s solitary life might allow for his or her sensibilities to be embraced rather than marginalized. Integrating one’s artistic tendencies with other archetypal outlooks may also be beneficial.  Be that as it may, for now let’s just accept and appreciate the artists in our own lives, in our Culture, in our Selves!

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images are from pixabay.com

I invite YOUR Comments and Stories!

Your Artistic Vein

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May is associated with the Archetype of the ARTIST. We each have artistic tendencies, whether or not we have developed these talents for our profession or as hobbies.

Your Inner Artist brings a sensitivity to form, color, texture, vibrancy, and style.  S/he helps you to appreciate symmetry, balance, and holistic design.

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Certain sorts of life experience may evoke or stimulate your ARTIST Archetype Ally. For me, spending time at an art museum or strolling through an art show allows my ARTIST to surface, center stage.

I love the sense of heightened appreciation of light, beauty, and form that infuses my senses when I step out from a museum after having absorbed myself in the artworks inside.

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When I was first in college in Buffalo, New York, the Albright-Knox art museum was just across the street from the campus.  For most of the time I was there, the museum hosted an Impressionists Hall that included one particular original painting by Vincent Van Gogh called “The Old Mill.” I had read Vincent, by Joost Poldermans, and I was (still am) fascinated by Van Gogh’s brilliant art. I became mesmerized by this one painting every time I visited the exhibit. There was a bench opposite from the painting, and I would sit literally for hours in front of this dynamic, folksy tableau of color, texture, and human passion. I would journal about the painting or about life. I would watch the museum patrons as they approached, viewed, and left or stood to discuss Vincent’s work.

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images from pixabay.com

(Notice in this one how the clouds are reaching forward like a hand over the landscape!)

I felt that the color of the rivulet flowing across the scene in “The Old Mill” painting mirrored Vincent’s own eyes of blue, placing his presence as centrally positioned, eternally embedded in the Southern French landscape portrayed.

This week, I invite you to give yourself an Artist’s Date, such as Julia Cameron describes in her excellent book, The Artist’s Way. This is  a time out, a chance for you to do something differently and pay attention to your environment. Maybe it is taking a walk along a lake, or a different road home. Or, simply engage in art in some form for its own sake. In fact, I encourage you to read and engage with the exercises in The Artist’s Way all this month.

I welcome your Comments and invite your Stories about your relationship with your own ARTIST Ally.

L’Artiste

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In exploring (the) twelve universal, primordial archetypes this year, it should be clear by now that all twelve of these persona figures exist within each of us. No matter your profession or lifestyle, you have within you an inner ARTIST.  Are you well acquainted with yours?

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The ARTIST within you can bring a special form of balance to your overall outlook on life. S/he can magnify and heighten the colors, tone, and passionate feel of your existence.

One simple tool to evoke your ARTIST, whenever you wish to bring Her forth (or Him), is to go to an art museum or to an art show. Immerse yourself for a few hours in the realm of Art, then when you step back into the normally lit world outside the museum or show, pay attention to how your sense of Vision and your appreciation of color, tone and form have been enhanced!

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When I first attended college in Buffalo, New York, my university campus was across the street from the Albright-Knox Art Museum. I would quite often spend full afternoons at the museum. During the time I was at the college, the museum housed a special Impressionists exhibit including several of Vincent Van Gogh’s original oil paintings. I had read Vincent by Joost Poldermans and I was very taken by Van Gogh’s life and his dynamic, passionate, visionary form of art. I oftentimes spent several hours at a time sitting on a museum bench just opposite Vincent’s “Old Mill” painting. I studied the painting and contemplated it deeply, journaling about how the blue of the creek cutting across the composition matched the blue of Vincent’s eyes, and reveling in the brilliance of the colors and the comforting vibrancy of the natural panorama there revealed.  But more than just absorbing and bathing as it were in the art itself, I watched the people who walked by, themselves watching the painting.

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Some viewers walked past Vincent’s “Old Mill” swiftly, hardly pausing to notice. Others heard the call as I had and they stood transfixed for several radiant moments. The pure Artist’s ART calls forth the dormant ARTIST.  We are transformed by the experience of sharing the Artist’s gaze. It blends with our own Artistic sensibility, raising our awareness of Form, Balance, and Vibration to a more holistic level of awareness.

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So, in leaving the museum or Art show, try to maintain your newly blended perspective that integrates your archetypal ARTIST viewpoint with whatever other energies you are holding. This can help you to jog your emotional sensitivity and rekindle your ideals.

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Tuning In and Giving Forth: Benefits of Your Spiritual Practice

 

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There are so many beautiful pathways of Spirit, available to all states of consciousness.  I like to realize how we are each of us exactly where we are meant to be, right now, to benefit from all of the lessons and blessings of Divine Love and Spirit. All we have to remember to do, and to have a method for doing, is to Tune In, so then we fill with Divine Love as the Life Force of creation, and then we may also Give Forth in service and divine love to others. It is a reciprocal relationship, the giving and the receiving as One, like a heartbeat, a Breath.

My purpose with this blog is to provide “personal growth and development” opportunities and insights about or toward anyone’s Better Endings. As such, I want to support and validate everyone’s approach to spirituality this week, as a primary focus for establishing growth and development in our lives.  (For those whose understanding of life and the Universe is more secular, agnostic or even “non-spiritual”, facilitating an existential ‘Aha!’ or a phenomenological focus on creative re-envisioning will do!)

For Tuesday’s Prompts List, I invite you to contemplate, meditate or pray upon, talk about, or create art around one or more of the following topics in relation to the BENEFITS you receive from Tuning In and from your interaction with Spirit/ the Life Force/ Divine Love. I invite and welcome your expressions if you would like to share them with others:

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The Prompts:

In what ways do you or have you or might you Benefit from the following forms of spiritual practice:

  • Inner Guidance (incl. via Spiritual Teachers, Masters, Guides)
  • Outer Guidance (e.g. waking dreams or attending spiritual talks or reading)
  • Lucid Dreams & Visionary experience
  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Mindfulness
  • True Contemplation/ active imagination
  • Writing
  • Chanting/ Mantras
  • Prayer
  • Song, Art, Poetic Expression, Photography, Movement, Dance, Music
  • archetypal dialogue
  • Signs/ synchronicity
  • Healing/ “alchemy”
  • Illumination
  • Prescience
  • Exploration of Higher Realities/ Parallel Worlds/ Heavens
  • Near-Death or Out of Body Experiences
  • Faith
  • Divine Love
  • Congregational sharing/ Family
  • Relationship with and in Nature
  • Communion/ Unity with Spirit and the Divine
  • Surrender
  • Vision Quest
  • OTHER…

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As a Tuesday bonus for readers, I share below a poem that moved me (re-blogged from iithinks.wordpress.com) and that reminds me of Rumi’s intimate communication with his own spiritual Master and with God. Here is a pure expression of gratitude for all that Spirit brings.

MY LIFE: TEARS OF GRATITUDE

(http://iithinks.wordpress.com/)

tears
Each tear trickling down my face
Splashes on the ground
and explodes in gratitude towards you
Darkness consumed my world
Broken and shattered by fear
No matter if I looked within myself or without
I cried that night for death
An escape that seemed so sweet
From the prison holding me captive by my fright
Instead, in your all encompassing mercy
Your love descended and you grasped my hand
And led me gently to the key unlocking truth, beauty and light
You brought me the latihan of Subud
But I was unsure of what to do and how to be
Then the angels sang a song of truth that captivated me:
“In facing He who has All
There is nothing that Man can do
Except empty himself in patient surrender”
On that day, my virginity was cast aside
I was impregnated with your divine power
And for the first time in my existence, my Inner Self came to life
Everything I thought I knew
Was burned to the ground, turned ashes and dust
What else could happen in an experience of your reality?
But it was also an illuminating light
Bringing clarity, understanding and the knowledge of Unity
Here I saw beyond right and wrong and all other forms of duality
I began to accept all that was born of your sacred divinity
Any who climbed the multiplicity of your paths using aught but sincerity
And I began to understand my own way of worship: Its rights and wrongs
Most of all, in my darkness
I was showered with your breathtaking and indescribable Love
It descended from the heavens above and poured forth from the heavens within
Although the darkness still lives with me, it is not of me
Now I am those moments of Peace, moments of Love, moments of Reality
In the end, I have been given that which sustains and nourishes me: hope in your divine mercy
What, oh Sacred Love, have I done for all this?
I know no explanation can be demanded of your overflowing Grace
My forehead kisses the ground in prayer and I simply ask that you always stay
Each tear trickling down my face
Splashes on the ground
and explodes in gratitude towards You
http://iithinks.wordpress.com/2014/02/10/my-life-tears-of-gratitude/