Saturday, September 29, 2012

Weekly Sabbath

A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte
by Georges Seurat., Art Institiute of Chicago

“Anyone can observe the Sabbath, but to make it holy takes a week.” ~ Alice Walker

“Some keep Sabbath by going to church.  I keep Sabbath by staying at home.”  ~ Emily Dickinson

Excerpt from Sabbaths 2011
by Wendell Berry

Sit and be still
until in the time
of no rain you hear
beneath the dry wind's
commotion in the trees
the sound of flowing
water among the rocks,
a stream unheard before,
and you are where
breathing is prayer.

I don’t know about you, but for the past couple of months I feel like I’ve been running non-stop.  My schedule looks something like this:  Wake-up, shower, wake up child #1, 15 minute meditation, make sure child #2 is up, eat breakfast and journal, tidy-up, say have a nice day to both as they head to school, go to work, come home, oversee soccer practice and/or game for child #1, oversee soccer practice, band and/or game for child #2, make sure children’s homework is done, make sure my homework is done for Wednesday night, eat supper, clean-up after supper, tidy –up, and go to sleep.  Repeat four more times and when Saturday comes around everything that didn’t get done during the week around the house (e.g., oil change, grocery shopping, bath room cleaning) needs to get done.

The problem is I’m finding this busyness is seeping into Sunday and everything is blending together and I can’t think and I’m trying to locate the cord for the emergency brakes because the train is moving very fast and there are still things needing to get done and it is Monday all over again.

Does this sound familiar?

I heard this story last week about a medical explorer in the Amazon.  Apparently, it is a well-known story.  The explorer is hunting for medicinal plants by traveling with an indigenous tribe. The first day of the journey happens quickly. They hike many hours through the swamp and jungle and cover lots of ground looking for a specific plant. The same happens on day two and three.  On the morning of the fourth day, the explorer eagerly hops up from sleep and prepares for another day of trekking. The tribesmen, however, are all sitting down.

“What are they doing? Tell them to get up. We have to get going!” urges the explorer who is also looking at his watch.

The translator explains that the men have pushed themselves too hard and had moved too fast. They are now waiting for their souls to catch up with their bodies

I can relate to the tribesmen.  I need some time for my soul to catch up with my intellect and body.  I need to find the cord for that brake.


Six days shall you be a workaholic;
on the seventh day, shall you join the serene company of human beings.
Six days shall you take orders from your boss;
on the seventh day, shall you be master/mistress of your own life.
Six days shall you toil in the market;
on the seventh day, shall you detach from money matters.
Six days shall you create, drive, create, invent, push;
on the seventh day, shall you reflect.
Six days shall you be the perfect success;
on the seventh day, shall you remember that not everything is in your power.
Six days shall you be a miserable failure;
on the seventh day, shall you be on top of the world.
Six days shall you enjoy the blessings of work;
on the seventh day, shall you understand that being is as important as doing.

How to Run a Traditional Jewish Household - Blu Greenbert


I recently completed the January series of Deepak Chopra’s Mind, Body and Spirit 21 day meditation.  One of the nuggets that I took away was about breathing.  Between the inhale and exhale there’s a point, the top of the mountain sort of speak, where everything stops before you exhale.  In that moment you are connected with you mind, soul and spirit.  This connection allows us to connect with others and with Motherfather Spirit.  I see this moment as having a personal choice concerning the next breathing cycle: Will I be more conscious, more loving and more connected with others?

I believe taking a day for Sabbath is supposed to be like this only more extended.  A day or at least two hours, when I can stop this need to get things done.  A day when I can be fully in the moment connected with Motherfather Spirit.

I think Barbara Brown Taylor says it plainly:  

“At least one day in every seven, pull off the road and park the car in the garage. Close the door to the toolshed and turn off the computer. Stay home not because you are sick but because you are well. Talk someone you love into being well with you. Take a nap, a walk, an hour for lunch. Test the premise that you are worth more than what you can produce—that even if you spent one whole day being good for nothing you would still be precious in God's sight—and when you get anxious because you are convinced that this is not so, remember that your own conviction is not required. This is a commandment. Your worth has already been established, even when you are not working. The purpose of the commandment is to woo you to the same truth.”

Inhale then exhale……


I don’t know how many are familiar with the blue laws.  These laws restricted purchasing of alcohol and times stores could be opened on Sunday.  By the time I was in college many had disappeared.  Stores were opened 24 hours a day even on Sunday.  Ironically, when I visited Europe it was one of the things I wished we still had.   It forces people to focus or in my case practice.

Within ten minutes of coming home from school, I’d hear one of my parents saying, “Have you practice yet?”  If I’d answer no they would follow-up with, “How do you expect to be good at something if you don’t practice?”  The same can be said for getting better at your spiritual craft.  If you only practice recipes and rituals on the holidays how do you expect to become an expert?

The Goddesses Vesta and Hesta urge their followers to stop and take time to focus and create the sacred.  These Goddesses embodied the notion that wholeness and inner peace was related to the time one focused on their spiritual center.    It is ironic that hearth means focus in Latin.  The image of an older woman knitting, rocking – staring into the fire comes to mind.  I see that woman as a symbol of what is important – a time when I’m not working and exerting force, but reflecting, paying attention and working in concert with Motherfather Spirit.  That woman is living a magical life.

I take a weekly Sabbath as part of my recipe for magical living.  It is an extended time period devoted to the craft and my connection Motherfather Spirit.  It’s my time to practice new recipes by blending herbs and spices; to sew blessings and tie blessing knots into a baby’s quilt, to pull weeds and harvest vegetables by singing songs of thanks, to hold a crystal and listen to it talk, lite a candle for the health of a friend, and to make a nice Sunday dinner to share with friends.


Focus Sabbatum (Hearth Sabbath)

Carve out at least 2 hours to devote to your craft and your spiritual gifts.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Was Jesus Married?

The Inside Story of a Controversial New Text About Jesus

According to a top religion scholar, this 1,600-year-old text fragment suggests that some early Christians believed Jesus was married—possibly to Mary Magdalene

  • By Ariel Sabar
  •, September 18, 2012

Read more:

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Queen of Heaven

Queen of Heaven

I grew up going to a main line reformed church during the 1970s.  At my church, there were women who were elders and deacons.  Sadly, it wasn’t until I had graduated from college did I realize that women could be ordained as a minister in my denomination (note: twenty years after this was allowed).  I thought this was great; I could finally hear a feminine view point of God.  But talking with other women there seemed to be a push back.  Many felt ministers should be a men’s only field.  God was a man of course.

Queen of Heaven
I confess I have coveted my Catholic friends who have Mary.  She was someone I could relate to.  Looking at her statue, Mary was approachable in a motherly and nurturing kind of way.  Her arms were always open ready for you to come and get a big hug.  God on the other hand, seemed standoffish ready to smite and punish.  Sure he was presented as a loving father, but if you’re having cramps and cramps were taught to be a part of God’s punishment for Eve’s sin – a girl is less likely to ask God to help cope.  Mary on the other hand – she gets it.     Mary gets it when your heart is broken over a boy who said he was in love with you and was dating someone else.  Mary gets it when you found out that the guys were getting more money at the same low paying job.  Mary gets it when you walked through your high school hallway and are called nasty sexually oriented names or are called (fill in the blank).  Mary has walked in my shoes as a woman.

I’m not saying that my church didn’t present women heroes of the Bible.  Yes, I learned about Deborah, Esther and Ruth.  I learned about the Marys, Lydia and Pricilla in the New Testament and the many nameless women who were someone’s mother or seen at (Name the place).  Yes there was the Holy Spirit – that seemed to be genderless and having some feminine characteristics.  But, for me, I always felt the Holy Spirit was sort felt slapped on at the Doxology after the Father, Son as an after thought.

I needed the feminine in my spiritual approach.


Snake Goddess
One of the influential books I read about women, theology and politics was The Serpent and the Goddess: Women, Religion, and Power in Celtic Ireland by Mary Condren.  What made this book so powerful for me was Condren’s historical descriptions of how ancient women’s symbols were eliminated or reduced to handmaidens.  I learned how Ireland changed with the introduction of Christianity.  It took less than five centuries to dismantle women from religion and politics.   “Finally, in the twelfth century, the Abbess of Kildare, who up till then had played a huge symbolic role in Irish culture, was raped by the soldiers of Dermot MacMurrough, and that symbolically and practically put an end to that lineage” (Lawless, Andrew, Interview Mary Condren).

Black Madonna, Rocmadoar France 
As Christianity was introduced throughout Europe it followed the Roman tradition by renaming the local Goddess as Mary.  The Goddess now disguised as Mary was able to maintain her residence (i.e., established shrine or temple).  However, most often her local temple was destroyed and a new church was built directly on the site all in order to further cloak the truth.  The new priests incorporated her prayers into their services.  Thus the Goddess was able to maintain her traditions she was accustomed to despite her new veneer.

There are numerous examples of how this occurred.  Mary was declared the Mother of God by the seventh century Christian Council of Ephesus.   Ephesus was home to the great temple for Diana.  This title is Diana’s.  In Southern Italy and Southern France Isis was worshiped.  Following the introduction of Christianity, Isis became the Black Madonna.

During the reformation, the protestants considered Mary’s statues as graven images – breaking the second commandment (“Thou shalt have no other gods before me.  Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth” Exodus).   The reformed churches agreed that Christ had a virgin birth through Mary – but to call her the Mother of God went too far.  Many statues and Marion art were destroyed during this time.

The reformers didn’t stop with Mary.  Women were also called into question.  There was a continual debate as to if women were really human beings.  Poor Eve, the first woman blamed for the original sin and for mankind punishment of leaving Eden and having to work.  Women were held guilty by just being a woman.  Any bad occurrence or misfortune was blamed on a woman.  Many women were burnt to death. 

Understanding the church’s history and the treatment of women makes it hard to stay.  Still I work for restoring the feminine - there's a great need for someone like the Queen of Heaven to be reintroduced – the balance still missing from the church.   Mary the Goddess in disguise.


Mary’s I have visited. 

Mary Shrine, Carrey, Ohio
Mother Cabrini Shrine, Denver Colorado
Blessed Virgin Mother Statue, Cologne, Germany
Virgin Mary Statue, Mission of San Xavier, Tucson, Arizona

Monday, September 17, 2012

Bohemian Quests

“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls.” ~ Anaïs Nin, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 7: 1966-1974

“[T]he most important reason for going from one place to another is to see what's in between, and they took great pleasure in doing just that.” ~ Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth

“I am always in quest of being open to what the universe will bring me.” ~ Jill Bolte Taylor

In his book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell outlined a narrative pattern that has appeared in many heroes’ tales outlined in twelve steps.  These cultural tales begin with an ordinary person call to adventure.  Many times, the hero is reluctant and has to be push forward.  We then follow them as they go on to achieve great deeds on behalf of a group or for humanity. 

I’ve always asked the questions about Campbell’s hero’s quests – who determines who can be a hero?  Are we not each capable of becoming one?  What are considered great deeds?  Sure discovering the cure for cancer is heroic, but isn’t the hospice nurse who midwives death a hero too?  Finally, who has the time to go on a formal quest?  Isn’t one who has financial and social responsibilities to a family, capable of a quest too even if they can’t give up a year or two?  What if you can’t afford a pilgrimage to a cool place – can’t you have a quest in your backyard too?


Bohemian Coffee House Baltimore, MD 
To me, the underlying purpose of a quest is to stretch us to look at our soul differently.  I see it also as a mechanism for reconnection with our soul’s true calling.  According to Campbell, the hero goes off on their adventure after they are called; meets new people; goes through some tests and trials; and comes back different and is able to share this experience with a group of friends.  I have often wondered what would happen if we looked at our day long journey as a quest?  How would our view of the mundane be different?  Would we live differently?

This is why I came up with the term Bohemian Quests. 

A Bohemian Quest is about looking at the ordinary or the boring or the humdrum in an uncommon way.  A Bohemian Quest is about changing your perceptions – shaking things up.  For example, at lunch I take a 30 minute walk.  I usually go one particular route and the houses and shops now have become a familiar blur.  But if a purposely change the direction of the walk a paradigmatic change always occurs in my perception.  I always manage to say – “there’s a church on the corner?”  “I didn’t know there was a coffee shop there?”

A Bohemian Quest is about creating quiet space to listen to our heart without the cell phone or e-mail blasts distracting us.  This may occur in a bookshop, a coffee shop or hiking in the woods.  Here, you can meet new people.  A Bohemian Quest may include signing up for a watercolor class or changing up your chore list from kitchen, bathroom and grocery store to grocery store, kitchen and bathroom.

Julia Cameron prescribed 3 tools for becoming a creative person: Daily Journal, Walking and Having an Artist Date.  I would describe a Bohemian Quest as fulfilling an artist date.  The purpose of the date is to spend a few hours a week doing something out of the ordinary.  It’s about feeding, refueling and nourishing the inner creative you.  It is about making your brain see things a little different from the way you usually do things. 
Cameron provides several examples.  Here are some of my favorites: hang out at a coffee shop and listen in on conversations, see an art film, go to Joanne Fabrics, go and see a live band concert, go to a park and sit under a tree, go to a flea market, go to poetry night reading…..

Take a Bohemian Quest

 Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey stages are:
1.        THE ORDINARY WORLD.  The hero, uneasy, uncomfortable or unaware, is introduced sympathetically so the audience can identify with the situation or dilemma.  The hero is shown against a background of environment, heredity, and personal history.  Some kind of polarity in the hero’s life is pulling in different directions and causing stress.

2.        THE CALL TO ADVENTURE.  Something shakes up the situation, either from external pressures or from something rising up from deep within, so the hero must face the beginnings of change. 

3.        REFUSAL OF THE CALL.  The hero feels the fear of the unknown and tries to turn away from the adventure, however briefly.  Alternately, another character may express the uncertainty and danger ahead.

4.        MEETING WITH THE MENTOR.  The hero comes across a seasoned traveler of the worlds who gives him or her training, equipment, or advice that will help on the journey.  Or the hero reaches within to a source of courage and wisdom.

5.        CROSSING THE THRESHOLD.  At the end of Act One, the hero commits to leaving the Ordinary World and entering a new region or condition with unfamiliar rules and values. 

6.        TESTS, ALLIES AND ENEMIES.  The hero is tested and sorts out allegiances in the Special World.

7.        APPROACH.  The hero and newfound allies prepare for the major challenge in the Special world.

8.        THE ORDEAL.  Near the middle of the story, the hero enters a central space in the Special World and confronts death or faces his or her greatest fear.  Out of the moment of death comes a new life.

9.        THE REWARD.  The hero takes possession of the treasure won by facing death.  There may be celebration, but there is also danger of losing the treasure again.

10.      THE ROAD BACK.  About three-fourths of the way through the story, the hero is driven to complete the adventure, leaving the Special World to be sure the treasure is brought home.  Often a chase scene signals the urgency and danger of the mission.

11.     THE RESURRECTION.  At the climax, the hero is severely tested once more on the threshold of home.  He or she is purified by a last sacrifice, another moment of death and rebirth, but on a higher and more complete level.  By the hero’s action, the polarities that were in conflict at the beginning are finally resolved.

12.       RETURN WITH THE ELIXIR.  The hero returns home or continues the journey, bearing some element of the treasure that has the power to transform the world as the hero has been transformed.

Purification – cleansing our thoughts

“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.”  ~ Buddha

“Those who are free of resentful thoughts surely find peace.” ~Buddha

“Always aim at complete harmony of thought and word and deed. Always aim at purifying your thoughts and everything will be well.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Lammas Day here in Ohio was really hot and humid.  The celebration I attended had an outdoors fire going.  This managed to create enough heat to perhaps bake bread.  A quick sniff test – I was relieved to learn that my deodorant was still managing to give off its “spring fresh” scent throughout the ceremony.     

A couple of weeks later my leader sent out a quick post evaluation of the event. The lack of purification came up quite a few times in his observation.  The noted lack of purification seemed odd to me, because it seems like common knowledge that you should do this before going to any ceremonial event: keeping Sabot, wedding ceremonies, visiting a new baby, going out to dinner at a nice restaurant for someone's birthday…..

Purification or ritual cleansing before any ceremonies is an ancient tradition.  It’s done in order to prepare the physical body to act as a liaison between the spiritual and physical plane.  A cleansing before a ritual or ceremony is done to wash away residual energy both seen and unseen.

I can see some of you doing the hand flip of “yea right” on the unseen stuff.

Think about this - have you ever been in an office that causes your neck hairs to rise?  Or perhaps you’re at a person’s house and as you move room to room it feels like cobwebs are sticking to your arm.  Have you ever sat through a meeting where everyone is arguing and you end up with one whopping headache?

That “stuff” you are feeling is sticking to your body’s energy field until you remove it. 

Think of that “stuff” as a piece of dust you find in your sofa.  Look at it closely, there’s a lot of stuff there: hair, cookie crumbs, lint and that button you’ve been looking for since….Get the picture?  This is what surrounds your energy field and ultimately effects how you think and feel. 

I’ve found there seems to be a lot written about how to cleanse the physical body and the physical environment (i.e., purification bathes, aura cleansing, appropriate ritual clothing, listing of cleansing herbs, smudging and salt containers to pull out negative energy), but not so much on how to purify the mind/thoughts and heart. 

Spending time on Navajo Nation, my preceptor told me that thoughts are silent messages out to the universe. Negative thoughts have a way of putting a kink into the universe.  I think of them as the sludge that gunks up the magic in the world.  In car terms, it is the very reason why you need to change your oil – if you don’t your engine might halt, that red light might turn on which leads to a sizable mechanics fee.  The red light under magical conditions can mean that intended love spell has now been directed to another or has been transformed into lust.  Examples of my gunk include:  focusing on what the heck I’m going to do with all those tomatoes; stressed out on how I’m going to get all those tasks done at work, or anxious about my son’s grades. 

I’ve brought the importance of mental cleansing up before a ceremony before.  I feel people seem to brush me off saying: “Oh.  Did that.” or “Good thoughts, check.”  When people tell me this, I feel mental cleansing has been reduced to an easy and quick process like lathering up your hands with lavender soap.  When I have this type of attitude, I’ve found that I tend to be distracted or show a lack of concentration in my work.  To me, purifying the mind goes beyond ticking off “positive thoughts.”  It requires a time and space devoted to introspection, personal change and self-control.

Much of the written work done regarding how to purify the mind has been completed by both the Buddhist and Yoga communities.  The common key is looking at how we react to patterns.  This is done through meditation by doing a mental check in about noticing what is going on in your mind without judgments and accepting it. 


Meditation - there are a lot of great meditations out there on Youtube.  

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Still Swimming

Sorry all for not posting.  I promise by after next week I will catch up.

We are down a co-worker at work and well how do you describe it - I'm swimming.

I am also trying to get use to semesters.  The state of Ohio changed all their colleges and universities to semesters and the dance doesn't feel right yet.

But not to worry - after I get into the rhythm all will be right.

So I sitting back and practicing.

Peace out all and enjoy the rest of the summer.