Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Zazen Zen – a meditation of self-reflection

I’ve decided to end this year of blogging and self-reflect about my blog before the next season.  You might say I’m doing this in the spirit of Zazen Zen (a form of meditation that is about looking at yourself for self growth). 

My mind is spinning with ideas and perhaps considering a theme I could write about next year.  This past year, I’ve been randomly selecting words with the idea of sharing “words of wisdom” to my grandchild.  (Note: I technically could be one but my kids are more focused on school than thoughts of getting married or me being a Grandmother).  But, again I’m drawn to having a blogging year that is a little more focused.

I’ve got two ideas.

I’ve decided to become a new moon heart meditation facilitator.  I’m currently studying and will be inviting a small group of women to my home to begin student teaching in January.  Each new moon is focused on a selected card from the Goddess Deck.  I think this would be interesting how the alphabet selected words would fit in with this.

I am also interested in a Goddess Circle in California and how they have named their full moon months and year (water and flow).  This could also be another focused way to select the words.

There have been several outcomes from this blog that I’m proud about:

1) I have actually finished this.  I clearly admit I’m the Queen of not completing things, especially creative things.  And, by writing this final entry – I can’t say this about my blogging project.

2) I’ve found some like-minded people via the web.  I have found people out there in the world who may worship differently, but are tolerant of those who march to a different drum.  Or are willing to read my views with an opened mind.

3) I’ve claimed who I am.  I never have pin pointed who I am spiritually.  I am a chameleon to different people because I’ve been afraid.  Well I’m not afraid for being a CCWWW.  It’s who I am.  There is something to giving yourself a label and the power of not letting others do this for you. 

4) I’ve thought about Motherfather Spirit each week.  Not in a help me or save me way – but branching out to see the Zeal of ordinary, the wowness that is happening around me.  My eyes have been opened to things I’ve needed to learn.  I’ve embraced that which I often forget to see.

5) I have found that much of this spiritual blogging is ending up in my fiction and poetry.  The two seem to feed off each other – the non-fiction and the fictional prose.  Reflecting back on my other short stories and poems – when Motherfather Spirit has an undercurrent the piece seems to be really liked.  And, most often accepted by other people of faiths.  So – the bottom line a universal message is coming forth and it isn’t about me.  I am the vessel for this to happen.  (It isn’t about me.)

I want to thank all my readers this year and their inspiring comments.  What amazed me were the countries your came from – places I have only seen on PBS or National Geographic’s – very cool.  You have been my cheerleaders to finish this project to the end.     

I want to thank my fellow PBP bloggers.  Thank you for allowing me to read your wonderful pieces.  You have pushed me to become a better person.  You have opened my mind to new ideas and places I need to explore more.

Ritual of ending a project.

White Candle
Frankincense essential oil

Anoint your candle with the essential oil putting into the candle thoughts of thanksgiving to Motherfather Spirit and earthly people who helped you complete your task. 

Verbally thank Motherfather Spirit and all the people who helped you.  Then light the candle saying:

I light this candle symbolizing my thanks to all who helped me along the way to get ______ done.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.

Allow the candle to burn down in a safe place.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Zeal Living

Plum Tree and Blue Magpies by Toshi Yoshida

Haikus by Kobayashi Issa
Don’t worry, spiders,
I keep house

Just simply alive,
Both of us, I
And the poppy

I've been thinking a lot about magical living.  To me, its living life with zeal.  I'm not talking about a zeal where people are so focused on moving energy and being wild frenzy about letter writing and marching; I'm talking about having a zeal for the ordinary that is happening around you that is often going unnoticed.

Its the kind of zeal you feel when you sit back and watch a spider float down and every once in a while you catch sightings of its ghostly thread.  And, you sit there as the spider gracefully descends sailing back and forth in the breeze.  When the spider finally lands in the grass you say wow.

Having zeal means you can be excited by the ordinary.  You can feel the magic crackle at that very moment.  It is like walking in the woods and stopping to watch how the sun filters through the leaves and looking at the light and dark patterns it makes on the ground.  Or standing back and watching the bees hover around the roses or scraping the jelly pot for the last bits that didn't make it into the canning jars.  Or wonder how the birds flying outside your car window follow the music playing on your radio. 

Yes, this zeal to me is about ordinary times when I feel connected with Motherfather Spirit.  These little moments when I feel alive and part of something bigger.  These times I feel most grateful for living.  Zeal living is like eating the first tomato off the vine in the summer - it is something that needs to be savored.

One of my favorite poets is Mary Oliver  She is the Queen for pointing out this zeal of the ordinary.  I think she captures this moment in her poem "The Herons." 

The Heron
Mary Oliver

Herons in Snow by Shoson

This morning
the beautiful white heron
was floating along above the water

and then into the sky of
this one world
we all belong to

where everything
sooner or later
is part of everything else

which thought made me feel
for a while
quite beautiful myself.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sacred Phrase Yum

As a girl, I knew Christmas season was here when I opened my front door.  A certain perfume of spices would greet me.  The other clue was my Aunt’s rusted Pinto station wagon would be in the drive behind my Mom's rusted red van.  I'd  quickly glance at the snow level on their windshields and this would indicate that today was the day.  My Mom and Aunt had been baking for about 8-9 hours straight while we were in school.  My family dining room table would be covered with goodies: Georgia Pecan Chewies,  Grandma’s favorite coconut cookies, Swedish S almond cookies and these chocolate meringues with a hershey kiss that would melt when they hit your tongue.  I could imagine my mouth filled with this thick soup of goodness.  There would be plates of jeweled colored candies dusted with a thin layer of powdered sugar.  Each gem color having its own unique taste: cinnamon, wintergreen, peppermint and clove.  The sugared treasures would last well into the spring.  I'd stand at the end of the table still dressed in my thick winter coat and hat and go: “Yum.”


Some of our most powerful memories are associated with smell and taste.  The olfactory nerve, responsible for smell, in evolutionary terms is our oldest sense.  It is one of the senses that we have in common with bacteria.  This rudimentary sense enables us to respond to chemicals around us.  (Think of opening up the jug of soured milk – what is your response?)  Another cool thing about this sense, it can regenerate.  As you age, your other senses wear out – you have to wear bifocals, you may have to wear a hearing aid – you will still have smell.  You will still be able to smell the hint of apple blossoms during the spring; and smell a chocolate cake baking in the kitchen.

It fascinates me how these smells seem to be wrapped around my memories.  Scientists believe is because of where the olfactory is located – next to our memory maker the hippocampus.  This closeness may be the reason scent is mixed with memory

In my earlier essay on Love Champions, I wrote about the heart chakra.  One of the seed mantras for the heart is "Yum.”  Yum in Sanskrit means compassion and love.  

How is it Yum – which I associate with yummy goodies and happy memories be also the seed mantra for the heart chakra?  How is it that this meditation phrase about love and heart energy is also what I’ve learned to say when I bite into a chocolate cake with Hershey frosting and think of all the wonderful women who have baked this for me. 

When I say it do I reinforce this memory with love?  When I think fondly on my Mom and Aunt’s day of cooking and baking – did I reinforce that memory each year as a child with the sacred phrase of Yum?


Yesterday I went to the candle shop at the mall.  I caught a whiff of the blended Christmas scents and for a momment I was transported back to my parent's dining room.  I was there again looking at the goodies and the plates of multi-colored jewels. 

It was a momment of love - a momment filled with comfort and a little girl's joy.  And, again I said, "Yum" reinforcing this love that is bigger than my childhood's memory.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Yorishiro – Honoring the spirits at WOW sites

Yorishiro - A place inhabited by the Kami (spirit) or a place where Kami have been invited to come.

Six years ago I traveled to Japan to visit a relative.  One of the things I remember about this very different place was something I valued in my CCWWW practice: honoring my connection with earth, ancestors and the spirits of the place.  Touring the major cities, I discovered forested parks and quiet green spaces in-between traffic and noise.   These places were alive and I could immediately feel the WOW energy.  Throughout these parks people had decorated trees with flags or ceramic bowl with a single flower. 

One of my favorite movies is My Neighbor Totoro (Miyazaki, 1988).  The animated film takes place in post war Japan.  It follows a story of a professor and his two daughters and their move to the country.  The house is closer to the hospital where the mother is being treated for an illness (i.e., most likely cancer due to the atomic bomb).  The move away from the city the girls discover the spirits of the place – one spirit Totoro who is the keeper of the forest.
Besides the adventures the girls have with the magical spirits, one piece of the film touches me.  The father and daughters are hiking into the forest and come to a large tree.  It is an ancient tree.  It is a tree that would take two or three people together to get their arms around.  The father stands reverently and bows; and the two girls mirror the gesture.

I have found myself often reverently bowing to places and trees even before my travels to Japan.  When I hike, I often leave an offering to the place.  This past summer hiking at Emerald Lake I was so moved by the place I left my ring.  I tossed it into the lake with an offering of thanks.  I think of my Ash tree and how I would tie brightly colored ribbons in her arms.  When I go to my family farm - I hug the ancient Oak.  Their spirit reminds me that I'm connected. 
It is interesting that between some cultures there are similarities.  My neighbor has just set out her two potted pine trees by her door.  They are decorated with white tiny lights.  In Japan at this time two Kadomatsu’s (i.e., pine gate) are created and set out on either side of the front door.  The decoration is to welcome Kami into the homes.  The decoration is also to welcome the God of the New Year.  The elements of the Kadomatsu are chosen to symbolize what the person would like in the coming year: longevity, prosperity, steadfastness and respectively.   
Saturday Activity

Create Kadomatsu for the front porch – more to come.
Two pots - look in the garage
Fresh greenery

Monday, December 3, 2012

Xena: A Path to Queendom

“Every man gives his life for what he believes ... one life is all we have to live and we live it according to what we believe.” ― Joan of Arc

“Though the sex to which I belong is considered weak you will nevertheless find me a rock that bends to no wind.” – Elizabeth I, Queen of England

"Xena is this warrior. She goes around saving people and righting wrongs. It's all pretty sappy, but she seems to get her kicks out of it."-Autolycus, Xena: Warrior Princess

During the Nineties, I watched several episodes of Xena: The Warrior Princess (1995-2001).  Finally, there was a female hero narrative that pushed the limits of Linda Carter’s Wonder Woman (1975-1979).  Xena was smart, sexy, strong, independent and opposite of the original Disney three.  She didn’t tolerate “power-over” (Starhawk) structure that the Disney Princesses existed as they waited for their Princes to save them.  Xena was a social changer and redefined what women could do.  Xena relied on her own skills to get out of obstacles. 

I think one of the reasons that I didn’t stick with the show was the warrior aspect.  I wasn’t into waving a sword after my experience with the “go-go purse.”  It wasn’t that I wouldn’t defend myself physically, but it didn’t fit me.  I felt a calling more like Morgana in Marion Zimmer Bradley -The Mists of Avalon.  I was more of a negotiator and interested in changing energy from snarky to love - or composing a letter that was addressing social justice and pressing send.  I also wanted a real role model – flesh and blood not fiction.  I wanted someone real who’d guide me into becoming a Queen with either path I chose.


According to Joseph Campbell there are two ways a woman can become Queen.  You can take the path of Faerie/Amazon (Xena) or Wise One/Medial (Morgana).  Either path, a Queen still begins life as a Princess (Hernández, 51).  Either path, there is a requirement for training based on trials, tests, successes, and failures.  Either path requires perseverance to grow.   To become a Queen is hard work.
My first psychic reading I was in my late twenties.  The woman asked me if I had seen Fields of Dreams (1989).  I shook my head yes.  "Well," she said, "remember that scene where the wife (Amy Madigan) gets up in the PTO meeting and defends the book that some parents want to ban."  I shook my head yes some more.  "That's you."

I must have had my "Yea Right" look.  Because she tells me this is how I will be in my forties.  I will grow into this type of person. She felt this was how I go around righting wrong with the world.  I wouldn't do it with a sword but with a pen and my voice.

I wasn't convinced.  I hated to get up in front of people.  This was why I chose policy work in public health rather than being in front of the classroom teaching.  The thought of standing up in front of people made me feel like I was going to throw-up and made my hands feel cold and sweaty.  I could barely read off index cards without 1) sounding laughable like the speed turned up on a record player or 2) lose my place on the index card and repeat the line over several times or 3) start to see blue dots in my peripheral vision. 

She then told me I needed to work on my throat chakra.  She made a recommendation that I should sing in the shower and take a public speaking course.  My throat chakra was pretty weak from how she saw it.

Then she asks:  "Do you write poetry?  I think you should write some haikus."  I didn't know where she was going with this.  "You could do poetry readings and haikus were short and sweet."  She then shared with me two places to read.


Developing excellent communication skills is absolutely essential to effective leadership.  The leader must be able to share knowledge and ideas to transmit a sense of urgency and enthusiasm to others.  If a leader can't get the message across clearly to motivate others to act on it then having a message doesn't even matter." ~ Gilvert Amelio

If you don't know much about the throat chakra - it is considered the center of communication.  It isn't just about talking and listening, but how you are able to express yourself in a physical and creative sense (e.g., art, music, writing, or dance).  The throat chakra is thought to be one of our emotional centers.  You know when you get a "lump in your throat" when you are sad - you are experiencing your throat chakra in action.  The throat chakra is also where we speak the truth and take responsibility for our words. 

A balanced throat chakra is an essential quality needed in a strong leader.  A strong throat chakra helps a leader get the message across through both words and non verbal skills.  A strong throat chakra can persuade and arouse the emotions in others - empowering them to join in getting the task done.  A strong throat chakra can help a leader remain fair and impartial and open to hear other ways to solve problems.  A strong throat chakra makes a leader comfortable sharing information and talk decisions through.

Pinpointing why there was a weakness in my throat chakra had to do with how I was raised.  I was told a child is seen not heard.  Growing-up my opinions were not valued due to my age.  Additionally, I was told if you didn't have something nice to say - don't say it.  So when it came to speaking out about something that was wrong - I was in conflict with how I was raised.  It took hard work to wear these beliefs down.
As I said before - becoming a Queen is hard work.

Tools to help strengthen you throat chakra
Wearing a turquoise gem stone
Wearing blue
Color, knit, paint, play the piano - do something that expresses how you feel
Sing along with the radio
Practice reading poetry out loud