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An old pickup full of bright-colored furniture and bulging suitcases stopped at the stone casita on the mesa in Abiquiu. Out jumped Zelda. She had traveled to New Mexico, all the way from New York City, leaving behind everyone and everything she had ever known. Tired of the crowds and tight spaces of living in the city, Zelda had said good-bye to her mom and dad, two brothers and two sisters and crammed all her belongings in the back of the truck. She was ready for an adventure. As soon as she stepped out of the truck in Abiquiú she fell in love with the wide-open spaces, the silence of the mountains, and the bright rainbow of many colors stretching across the afternoon sky in the Land of Enchantment. 

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On the other side of town, an old pickup zoomed down the highway. A door flew open, and out tumbled a little puppy. The truck screeched away leaving the little puppy all alone and afraid.

Before long the kind lady from Animal Rescue heard news that a little puppy was whimpering on the side of the road. She couldn’t imagine how anyone could abandon a puppy. She took him back to her house, which was already overcrowded with animals. She soon realized that there was no room left to keep even a puppy for very long. She posted his picture around town, determined to find him a better home.

excerpt from the forthcoming Jethro the Runaway Puppy

And so starts the story inspired by the runaway of my dog Jethro last summer. The commitment to self publish a book is rooted in love with huge doses of time and money invested. One takes a faithful leap into territories not usually traversed by novice storytellers with no certainty of the results. I never imagined I would write a story for children yet the unfolding of Jethro’s story was a guiding light through a time of darkness.

One of the more challenging aspects of bringing Jethro’s story to life was finding an illustrator. I am fortunate that the proverbial leap landed in the hands of Jennet Inglis. She has been able to extract the essence of each chapter with poignant illustrations drawing the reader into the real and imagined world of Jethro. It has been a thrill to witness Jethro’s story soar to life in pictures.

I hope you think so too.

 

I went to the river alone. I wondered if it would have been a “better” ceremony if others were there with me.

And then this quote appeared by Mary Oliver.

“Ordinarily, I go to the woods alone, with not a single friend, for they are all smilers and talkers and therefore unsuitable. I don’t really want to be witnessed talking to the catbirds or hugging the old black oak tree. I have my way of praying, as you no doubt have yours. Besides, when I am alone I can become invisible. I can sit on the top of a dune as motionless as an uprise of weeds, until the foxes run by unconcerned. I can hear the almost unhearable sound of the roses singing.” Mary Oliver

It has been over a year since I was in ceremony. An emptiness had occupied a space in my soul.

For me, ceremony is a work of art. But unlike other “arts” there is no unique talent needed other than your own soul, for ceremony is the language that it speaks.

A ceremony starts with inspiration. To that, intention is added. It is all mixed with love and in that process an offering of your heart is created. Ceremony is an expression of a longing for Oneness, to know that we are as vast and infinite as the stars of the night sky.

Rishi stars and sunflowers sparked the inspiration to awaken our Star Nature and heal the wounds that leave us feeling separate from the Infinite.

I drove along thirteen miles of dirt road to Christ in the Desert Monastery to sit by the river. It is here, at this spot, that intentions prayed into sunflowers were fed with honey and lavender, sweets and sage, before being offered to the river.

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Ok so I wasn’t completely alone. Jethro the gatekeeper had a watchful eye on our floating despacho.

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Oh and did I mention Charlie? He and Jethro took full advantage of the healing waters of the Rishi Stars.

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I traveled the dirt road feeling alone and separate. Ceremony changed that.

An offering is made. A burden is lifted. Intentions are carried by Spirit to find their way in the river of life.

And then this happened.

This is what happy looks like.

 

My enlightened friend Lou McCall told me about Rishi Stars. I had never heard of the phenomenon. Apparently Rishi Stars, more commonly known to Westerners as the Big Dipper, are very close to the Earth at this time of year.

“According to Tibetan and Vedic astrology, when the ‘Rishi’ stars are visible in the night sky, their light is said to possess special healing powers that transform all water into a healing nectar.”

This year they are out from September 9-15

Read the full article on Rishi Stars here

Sunflowers are all over northern New Mexico now blooming in the most unlikely places. Their bright faces are forever looking to the Sun. I can’t help but smile seeing them line the highways with their lighthearted beauty.

I watched a video on Facebook the other day where Neil deGrasse Tyson shared the most astounding fact about the Universe.

The atoms that comprise life on Earth and make up the human body are traceable to the stars. We are part of this Universe, we are in this Universe, but perhaps more important than both of those facts is that the Universe is in us.”

Sunflowers, stars and astounding facts about the Universe; seemingly happenstance moments have synchronized in ceremony. An offering has been made for the waters. A loaf of challah bread, full of sunflowers, holds a collective intention.

May we Awaken to our Divinity.
May we align with our Star Nature,
the destiny our soul is here to fulfill.

May we heal the wounds that leave us feeling separate,
alone and disconnected from the world in which we live.

May every atom of our being vibrate in the memory that we are made of Stars.

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With your breath, offer our collective intentions by blowing them into the image. Individual prayers and intentions can be added as well; for yourself, your loved ones and for all of humanity. Our offering will be carried by the healing nectar of the waters.

You can also create your own offering. I have used muffins, bagels and unfrosted cupcakes to create offerings. Prayers and intentions are blown into the sunflowers yet you can use any native plant, leaf or flower for prayer holders. In Peru, cocoa leaves are used.

Before being released to the water, our prayers will be fed with sweets, honey, sea salts and seaweed to boost their power. Since our bodies are made mostly of water, you can take advantage of Rishi Stars by lying under the stars at night or soaking in hot springs. Leave water out overnight to be charged with celestial wisdom and drink it in.

Maybe I’m just an old hippie but these words still say it best..

We are Stardust,
We are Golden,
And we’ve got to get ourselves back to the Garden.
Joni Mitchell

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DON ILLARIO, THE HIGH ANDES OF PERU

We all have a mountain to climb. It is our spiritual journey. There are peaks and valleys in every life.

How do we climb the mountain of our lifetime?

The shamans teach us the way of the Apus, or Spirits of the Holy Mountains, is the way of beauty. It is the way to discover your sacred soul. You offer gratitude for each step. Not every step will be easy. There will be challenges and difficulties and obstacles. We hold everything in gratitude.

We bow before this mystery for we do not understand. We cannot understand in the ways that have made sense of our world for so long. We cannot make sense by analyzing, rationalizing, proving, justifying, defending. The mystery of power can never be understood in this way.

It is a mockery to come to the mountain, to come to a source of great power and wisdom with your rational mind and expect to have any understanding. All these habits must be dropped. The ways of the old, the ways of the mind can never comprehend the mountain. The mind will miss the beauty and the power.

from the forthcoming A Feminine Path to Enlightenment

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As women, we have learned to condemn our bodies. The suppression of the Feminine must thwart her sexual nature. Although sexual energy cannot be obliterated it can be shackled. The chain that binds it is shame.

Shame cannot castrate the existence of the feminine but it can bind her to darkened caverns enslaved as bitch, castrator, nag; the frigid rage of the feminine repressed.

Historically we have seen expressions of feminine sexuality disgraced. The female body has been objectified. Why has so much of our collective consciousness been used to hold the female body in contempt, including those of us who are living in one?

It is because of the power it holds. The female body is the most sovereign manifestation of Divine Creation on our planet for she carries the womb, the vessel from which life springs forth. Even man emerges from the body of a woman yet her body has been damned so that even a woman herself loathes being in it.

When our sexuality is subjugated, our deepest power to create is made impotent. Because of the power of the Feminine, especially as expressed in the female form, it has been suppressed, oppressed and objectified in order to gain control over her mystery. A woman may not have been raped but every woman, somewhere in her cellular memory, knows what it means to be sexually violated, to give herself to a man to avoid conflict or to please him at the expense of her own needs and desires.

Do women have any idea of their sacredness? Do women have any idea what they have been gifted through their body? They are the carriers of life. Have women forgotten the sacred mystery of the Divine Feminine?

How do we internalize honor and respect for our body if the messages we receive are so contrary to that truth? In the natural course of human development our sense of who we are is created through a mirror that is always reflecting back to us some message. In the case of our feminine bodies that message is distorted.

The creative energy of the feminine is so powerful it has taken centuries of massive collective energy to suppress her wisdom but she is re-birthing and with that her story is changing. For the past two thousand years the story of Adam and Eve has informed our collective consciousness as perhaps no other story in history ever has. We as women seem to carry the original sin of Eve, cast out of the garden as a seductive temptress. At the heart of this Judeo-Christian creation story sits the misaligned myth of the feminine.

It is time to write a new story. Our power to create is inextricably linked to the orgasmic power of our most divine life force; our sexuality.

Read “Wet, Dark & Tangled: The Unthwarted Feminine” published on Elephant Journal in 2012

THE CLIMB

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We have walked on our Earth as if we have dominion over Nature. Humility is needed. To be humble with Nature is to be humble with all things.

We may think we are bigger than this mountain. We can conquer this mountain. We can climb this mountain. But this is not the way to come into right relationship with the mountain. Arrogance and superiority are not the right approach.

We must humble ourselves before the mountain for the mountain can crush. It can kill. It has the power to destroy. One wrong step, one wrong move and a mountain can end your life. To be arrogant and superior is not the way to approach the mountain. One must be humble.

Humility is at the core of every power. True power does not need to announce itself to be known. True power does not preach a long sermon to prove its worth. The mountain does not stand there to diminish or destroy you. Who among us can say we have lived as long as a mountain? To the face of a mountain we are but a blink, even less than a blink, so small is our time here.

The power of the mountains are here to guide the way to our individual peak of consciousness so each of us may create our life from the highest source of wisdom.

For this journey, the wisdom of the Apus is needed. A strong faith is needed on this journey. A strong connection to the source of power feeds and sustains us.

Every step on the mountain demands your full attention. Every breath stretches into new frontiers of the wild wilderness of your soul. Your old ways must crumble to make way for the life force that enters your body as you climb the wild hills and valleys of your own inner terrain.

You will feel like you cannot go on, that the mountain will take you. We climb the mountain with prayer. Every step is holy. Each breath is a prayer. Each breath is a thank you. Every breath weaves you deeply into the power of the Apus. Each breath is a remembering of our own power, the true nature of power that is the spirit of the Apus

Thank you is the way with any great mystery, with every great power. We come humbly. We thank you for every step, for every breath, for every grace you bestow upon us. It is only through the grace of this power that our fragile existence is sustained. We thank you for guiding us safely on this climb.

Our spiritual journey is no different. We all climb a mountain in this lifetime. There are peaks and valleys in every life.

IMAGINE

Let us imagine a world.

The shamans of the high Andes dedicate the first 12 days of August to honor Pachamama and dream the year ahead into being with the Despacho Ceremony.

With your intent or with your breath, send your vision to the rose petals in the singing bowl.

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August 2nd is also the New Moon. The dark lunar landscape is fertile ground for setting intentions. Our collective prayer will be released by sounding the bowl on the Full Moon of August 18th.

I imagine a world where love is the prevailing force on our planet.

I imagine a world where every child knows they are worthy and loved.

I imagine a world with clear waters and clean air.

I imagine a world where the abundance of our planet feeds every belly and soul.

Our visions dream a new world into being for as we vision a new world we become the vision.

And the world changes.

The times we are living in are calling for our visions to be bigger than ever before. I bow in gratitude for adding your voice to a collective vision. May generations to come look back and say thank you for what we are creating today.

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IMAGE CREATED BY CHANDRADEV KAUR