Tuesday, June 29, 2010

How to be brave

This is Sadie, our first wwoofer of the summer season. With her permission, I want to tell you what I learned about being brave from this young musician from England. Sadie came to live with us and work on our oyster lease for a week, and no matter what opportunity our rural island life presented to her, her response was, "I'll try that."

Working on an oyster farm is not easy but not hard either. Sadie said maybe it was harder to sit in an office all day than to be out in the sun and wind. I marveled at her youthful ability to keep saying yes to new experiences. We went sailing on our Bristol 29.9 named Pearl and whether she was being the foredeck hand when tacking, or taking the wheel, she always was willing to try. On our last night with us we all went to a Zazen meditation, even though Sadie had only a little experience with sitting. I think I would have balked at two 40 minutes sessions separated by a 10 minute walking meditation but she was had a smile and a yes for this new opportunity.

I said several times that I thought she was brave, and now that she is on her way back to England, I have been wondering what I meant by that. I think being brave is greeting something new with an open, rising-up feeling of possibility, rather than pulling back into timidity and apprehension of change. I think greeting the unknown as a friend instantly shifts the energy we can draw upon when we begin to enter its territory. We can feel this energy like warm sunshine when we say, "I'll try that."

The Journey Oracle cards are like a new territory. We can feel apprehensive and uncertain, or we can step out on this new path, willing to say yes to the experience of guidance from the more-than-human world.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A new way of reading Oracle cards

While giving readings every Friday at the Market on Cortes Island, I have been discovering a new way of reading the Journey Oracle cards that I call the Journey Reading. Imagine that you are sitting across from me and I tell you to think about a situation for which you want some advice, and then to tell me only a one word indicator of the topic. You think of this question, "Where are I and .........going together?" And you summarize this topic by saying "relationship" to me. (Of course the blank doesn't have to be a person, it could be a place, or a dream, or even an awareness.) I ask you to hold the oracle cards between your palms in the prayer pose for a few moments and then you select this card.

First I ask you to notice that this oracle card is from the Journey suit because of its lavender rim. The larger themes of this group of cards are these: Boundaries, Desire, Work. I ask you to feel into these words and choose the one that seems a good fit to your situation. I next gaze into the image on the card and describe it using ordinary language, asking you to notice what phrases or words have an emotional charge for you.

I see a rushing of power to the right, which is the direction of action in this world. I see blue flower-like forms being propelled in this stream of purple, flying out before a flow of yellow like sunlight, held on thin stems of warm earth brown. There are some dark reflections below the stream but these are not involved in the flow .

I next ask you to share what phrases or words had a charge for you. I ask how is this question, "Am I creating a hollow space?" a comment on what these phrases mean to your situation. Next on this journey to the Oracle for advice I read you the story corresponding to this card, asking you to hear it like a dream...noticing within its details a feeling, or phrase, or description that resonates with your situation.

A man and a woman were hiking. They had been doing long, hard walking along a steep slant of terrain that dropped through trees and brush to a glitter of mother energy by water far below the trail. A cold wind and occasional spitting shower of rain moved through the forest like shaman power.
After many hours, the couple came out onto a narrow delta of uneven ground near the inflow to the lake. The hummocks and gouges in the land made the expanse look like an overgrown garden, with patches of gorse and willow atop islands created by trenches in designs made as if by watery creatures of art.

The woman thought “I can barely take in the eye and what it is seeing in this place. How will we ever make a comfortable bed here for the night?” Still, the man seemed cheerful as he created a cache line for their food and wandered the soggy meadow looking for a tent site. As they considered possible locations the man reported finding a fresh pile of bear scat near the cache tree. As if to add to her alarm about a bear in the area, it began to rain in earnest, driven by the wind against their already cold faces and hands.

A wide hummock was found whose steep sides acted like drainage ditches for the rising gurgle of water moving to the lake. The tent was staked securely in the willow brush; its rain fly stretched to include shelter for packs and gear. The man fixed a hot meal a distance away under a spruce tree, and heated water for washing. Though all this was about really seeing something, the woman found herself staying with her feelings of unhappiness. Never had she been so miserable!
At last the man and the woman were inside the tent in their sleeping bags. The woman was curled into her struggle with the bear and the sound of the rain when the man said “This is great! I’m warm and dry and fed. I have all I need.”

Finally we arrive at the Oracle's wisdom and I read you each of these five statements, asking you to respond spontaneously with what each means for your situation.

The origin of the situation is an unfolding.

The color of my perception is black and white.

I am influenced by light.

I will recognize change as something appalling.

The answer is in the experience of wave energy.

Although most seem evident, we spend some time discussing what the word "appalling" means in your specific circumstance. We discuss lots of different meanings of wave energy. We finish by relooking at the larger themes of the oracle card suit that began our reading, checking to see if another theme is now more insightful for your situation, or confirming your first intuition as still true.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Creating a shamanic portal

One of the most difficult aspects of my journey with the Journey Oracle cards has been learning how to let go of my expectations about how they are to be out in the world. My first notion was that they were somehow like a book, even though their 'book cover' was a box, like many of the boxed sets of tarot cards found in book stores today. I next imagined the cards as a specialty item in a metaphysical store and thought to say yes to the interest shown them from Banyen Books last summer. Although this invitation was very interesting, somehow the box with the bar code has not materialized, and maybe nowt this opening has closed. I also thought of posting them on shamanic web stores but the energy doesn't feel right.

My web master has suggested I consider Facebook and YouTube as appropriate ways to call attention to the oracle cards, and while I have been considering this, something interesting happened at the Friday Market on Cortes Island last week. A young woman came to my table considering a birthday present for her man who had commented about his interest on my cards. I began to tell her something about them, showing the new custom printed version...and suddenly she began to cry. She said," These are a shamanic portal; I can feel myself going there. I can feel the truth in them." Her declaration moved me to reconsider my ongoing calculation for how to attract attention in the larger world. Some things are meant to stay small, and potent, and only be discovered by those who are ready to go there.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Receiving a spring blessing

Finally the sun is out; bees drone over the scotch broom out by the road and on the Spiderwort in the garden. Tiny baby spiders create a dancing filagree across the arms of the deck chairs while bird song floods the forest like a halejuela chorus. Of course the forecast is for more rain and wind at the end of the week but in this moment, soft green beauty shimmers from every view.

Some days ago my friends and I motor-sailed to Mitlenatch Island in the Georgia Strait. The day was not what we had hoped for, as bands of heavy-laden clouds filed across a dramatic sky; the pewter sea only dimpled by a wind insufficient for sailing. Upon arriving we walked in search of wildflowers in the seabird sanctuary and although we found a few, the spectacular display of early spring was over. How different that day felt, from today, because of my expectation for it. I understand with my intellect the value of "living in the now" but when I am filled with expectations and anticipations for how I want something to be, my head is too full of the future to open my heart to the present.

My readings with the Journey Oracle cards are also like these two days. When I try and hold to a certain expectation for conducting a reading I am limited by the form I have built from past experiences. When I sit quietly for a moment with the client and just let the beauty of the moment together present itself, new ways of accessing the Oracle unfold. Just recently, I have discovered to begin an oracle reading by working first with the larger themes represented by the colored rims of the cards chosen, as if these were the quality of sun, wind and sea holding the sailboat of the questioner's seeking.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Ways to have a relationship with Death

Death is something most of us do not want to think about; of course everything wants to live. But many years ago I heard a record by Bill Cosby in which he talked about how he was "making an old person." I kept thinking about this and I started paying attention to what kind of old person I was making. This was the beginning of my conscious relationship with Death. Later, in the books of Don Juan by Carlos Castenada I read, "Death is the only friend that never leaves you." For many years I pondered how Death is a friend. I came closer to understanding this when I received a spirit song for my Mother's death which contained the line, "loving comes Death to make us whole."

Shakespeare gave me a great teaching in the q
If it be not now, let it come. Readiness is all.
When I find myself in times of stress about Death, I remember these words and they help me feel calm.
One of the ways I have learned to be ready is to greet Death each day in my morning prayers. I say, "If it is so that I die today, thank you for the beauty of this day" and I pay a few moments special attention to something small and precious: raindrops on fern brackets or the graceful sweep of a rhododendron flower. In my evening prayers I acknowledge my joy at being alive by saying, "thank you for this beautiful day of life."

In the Journey Oracle cards, there is no representation of Death, except possibly in the Fate card, the most dramatic of all the oracle cards. This card has a white and a black side showing the seasons of growth and abundance, and showing the seasons of decline and decay. This is the only card in the oracle deck that can stop a reading, because just like Death, there is no further reference, or teaching, or question; no way to continue the story we have been telling ourselves.