All Hallows’ Eve and Samhain
Many of us are familiar with Halloween, but the traditions around this time of year go back hundreds of years. In the Celtic calendar, November 1st is All Hallows’ Day and that marks the start of the New Year. This makes October 31st, All Hallows’ Eve, the last day of the year according to the Celts. For those who are wondering, hallow is loosely translated to holy. I’ve always felt that Halloween is a day filled with magic and possibility. Now I understand that it has significance not just as an American holiday, but that it is steeped in tradition and mystical associations.
Many of our Halloween traditions spring from the Celtic celebration of Samhain, which means “summer’s end.” Celebrated as far back as the 8th century, Samhain represented the end of the “light half” of the year and signaled the start of the dark half of the year. It was traditionally celebrated on October 31st at midnight. Festivities included bonfires, rituals, dancing, costumes, and feasts. One tradition involved rekindling the hearths at home with the fire from the sacred bonfires as symbol of cleansing and renewing. It was believed that is was on this day that veil between the world of the living and the dead was the thinnest and that the living and the dead could mingle the most easily on this date. The Catholic Church also recognizes this time of year as a day to honor the dead as All Saints Day. This Catholic celebration was recognized in the 8th century by Pope Gregory the III.
In Scotland, this time of year was marked by guisers, men in masks and costumes, wearing white and carrying lanterns made from turnips. It is believed that this tradition was to impersonate evil spirits and keep them at bay. In Brittany, France, cakes in the shape of antlers were baked to honor the god of winter. In various cultures, it was believed that this was a powerful date for divination or fortune telling. This was done by throwing bones or apples, casting stones or reading tea leaves.
Whatever your belief, the celebrations at this time of year go back for centuries! This is a time to celebrate the change in the seasons, and welcome the change from the summer to the fall. Whatever your traditions are, enjoy them and celebrate. Wishing you a magical Halloween, Samhain or All Saints Day!
By Laura Powers
I have been getting the message again and again that it is
more important than ever to clear clutter!
Not only is clutter ugly and but it reduces flow in our lives and it
takes away our energy. Also, when we
have clutter, it means that our physical and mental spaces are so full that
there isn’t room for new (and better, more beautiful things) to come into our
lives. Clearing clutter creates room in
our spaces, lives, and thoughts for wonderful new energies, belongings and
experiences. In addition to being
unappealing, clutter creates stagnant energy.
Everyone knows that anything that does not get moved and cleaned for a
while collects dust and cobwebs but did you also know that when things don’t get
moved and cleaned, energetic debris is also created? To make matters worse, this energetic debris
attracts entities (non-human energy beings) that feed on that stagnant energy
and then leave their own detritus (like energetic poop). I know this sounds gross but it is true.
So now we know why clutter is negative but how can we easily
and effectively help clear it?
First of all, start working on your spaces in small
chunks. Don’t try to organize your whole
house in one-day! You might start out
with just a drawer or a coat closet.
Appreciate whatever progress you make and don’t feel overwhelmed. Sort your belongings into piles of items you
want to keep, throw away, or give away.
Don’t keep anything that you don’t love or isn’t practical or needed. If
a clothing item doesn’t make you feel beautiful, it may be time for it to go.
You might feel some resistance in starting out and that is
ok! Just notice and then allow yourself
to move past it without judging yourself.
As soon as your start, that feeling is likely to let up.
Play some fun music while you are doing this and maybe give
yourself a reward after your complete your task like a glass of wine, watching
a movie or (my favorite) enjoying hot bath.
You can also enlist the help of the housekeeping angels (some of my
favorite angels!) and the Archangels Jophiel, Chamuel, and Michael. These three angels are great at helping to
clear negative energies, bringing in positive energy, and creating beauty! To ask them for help all you have to do is
say or think “angels please help me with ______.” It really is that easy!
Don’t be surprised if you have more energy, passion, and
zest for life after you start these projects.
Decluttering is very satisfying and since it helps you tap into the
natural flow and abundance or life, you may suddenly find yourself with a
renewed passion or interest in new projects or old hobbies that have fallen by
the wayside. Whatever happens, the time
you invest in decluttering is sure to pay off!
One benefit I noticed right away is that I feel lighter and more
abundant. Once you have decluttered, you
can spend more time relaxing, having fun with friends and family, and being
creative. So start today, even if it is
just with your handbag – you won’t regret it!
Year of the Water Dragon
By Laura Powers
The Year of the Water Dragon starts January 23, 2012 and continues until February 9, 2013. The Chinese zodiac follows the lunar calendar whereas western astrology has a stronger basis in the sun sign. According to the Chinese zodiac, there are a lot of changes coming after the year of the Metal Rabbit. The dragon is the 5th sign of the zodiac and signifies luck, strength, and is also characterized by new beginnings. Dragon is also characterized by upheaval and big changes and the dragon is associated with spring, so expect a lot of changes early on in the year. Changes of all type will characterize this year including changes in regimes, economies, love, and lifestyle.
To get an idea of what to expect, we can look at the last Water Dragon year which spanned from January 1952 and February 1953. The last water dragon year saw the start of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign who is still in power today! “The Mousetrap”, the longest running play in history also opened that year. The hydrogen bomb and the b – 52 bomber also made their first appearance that year.
The water element helps make the year flow as many areas of life will grow, shift, and change! Also there may be significant changes with water systems and natural disasters related to water such as floods, tsunamis, etc. The water dragon is less intense and more mellow than a fire dragon and less motivated by power. Water Dragon years happen once every 60 years so the next Water Dragon year after this one will be in 2072.
There are many famous and powerful people born in the Year of the Dragon including Craigslist founder, Craig Newmark, and the CEO of Coca Cola, John Lennon, Mae West, Salvador Dali, Florence Nightingale, Helen Keller, and Dr Seuss. All of these are people who were out of the box thinkers and made their own fortunes and forged their own, non-traditional path. Dragons are characterized by their free spirit and their need for freedom. Dragons are not subtle and they don’t do things small so when dealing with dragons, expect big things! Though dragons don’t play it safe and can be known to be grandiose, they do not do things for show. They are passionate and colorful people. They can be surrounded by many people but are more solitary by nature and they are known for their self-sufficiency.
Helpful Suggestions for the Water Dragon Year
Water dragons are good at negotiation and diplomacy and can be overly optimistic. The water element mellows the dragon’s temperament so this year may not be as turbulent as other dragon years however, it is best to do research before making decisions and not to rush haphazardly into projects. It is also best to finish projects before starting bold, new ventures. This is a year that is sure to be characterized by lots of big changes but there is a lot of good luck associated with the dragon. So stay focused, think big and work strategically and as always, go with the flow and you will do well.
By Eugene Holden
Helen Keller once said; “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.”
Having sight is not the same as having a vision for your life. Without a vision, we can seem lost, and every day can feel like the same, boring old thing. Without a vision our lives can become hum-drum and it may seem as if we go through life like a leaf blowing in the wind. We have no purpose, no passion, and no reason for living life full out. We may even ask ourselves what the heck are we doing here. Here’s the thing, we are all here for a purpose.
As soon as you tap into your vision, life takes on a completely new meaning and unlimited possibilities are placed at the doorway of your being. Having a vision for your life, tapping into the purpose of your being provides you with the opportunity to live your life with passion, joy and creativity.
No matter what appears to be happening, see your life filled with beauty, joy, and abundance. As scripture says, “Keep your eye single and your body will be filled with light.” This light not only fills your body, it guides you to your greatest and highest desires, and it does so with ease and grace. Be advised though, this does not just happen. It takes work. It takes being committed to the vision. I know this may sound like a contradiction, but it is not.
Yes, it takes being committed to the vision, the purpose. And commitment takes discipline. Discipline take will power, or put a better way; the power to be willing to surrender to the vision every day.
Everyone has a vision that wants to be lived through them. Every day, take the time to find a quite space to be still. While you are in this place of peace, ask this question; “What is the vision for this day?” Then relax and listen. As you continue this practice, your vision becomes clearer, and you will find yourself being pulled by your vision. Not only that, you find that your vision is somehow divinely supported. People start showing up in your life to assist you. Doors open in ways that you have only imagined, and your vision begins to take on a life of its own. The only thing left to do is hang on and enjoy the ride in joy.
Spirituality and Religion
By Laura Powers
We are not human beings in search of spirituality.
We are spiritual beings immersed in a human experience.
~Pierre Teilhard de Chardin~ French philosopher, 1881-1955
For the longest time, I rejected spirituality because for me it was so closely connected to religion and I struggled with many of the rules and structure of religion. For example, I don’t believe homosexuality is wrong or that premarital sex is a sin as many of the main world religions do and so I found them tough to follow. For the last couple of years I have been reading, learning and exploring and I have come to realize that for me, spirituality no longer has to be tied in with religion. This has been an eye opening and revelatory realization. I now know that I can be spiritual, without following a structured religion and that I can choose to take different ideas expressed in religions without accepting everything. I liken it to approaching religion like a buffet; take what you like and leave what you don’t. I believe that many people feel the way that I used to feel, that religion and spirituality are closely tied together, so I decided to write this article to explore the differences between spirituality and religion.
According to Dictionary.com spirituality, is defined as: 1. The quality or fact of being spiritual 2. Incorporeal or immaterial nature. Spirit is defined as: 1. The principle of conscious life; the vital principle in humans, animating the body or mediating between the body and soul. 2. The incorporeal part of humans. Spirituality then seems to me more to do with matters of spirit and the immaterial side of our nature than about right and wrong dictates or morality. The word spirituality is quite broad in meaning actually as it is simply the exploration of our non-physical selves! There are many who are very focused on the material world and do not even believe in spirit or souls. I believe that everyone is spiritual in nature, they simply might now acknowledge that aspect of themselves. We all have clues about our spirits purpose in this particular life and I found the following quote very descriptive, “Wherever we may come alive, that is the area in which we are spiritual,” David Steindl-Rast. I know, for example, when I dance I feel the connection with spirit, I feel completely and utterly alive in my body but I also am connecting with something far greater than myself.
The more I understand about life and the afterlife, the more I understand that this current life is small piece of a much bigger whole. I love this C.S. Lewis quote which I find sums up the situation, “You don't have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.” Spirituality is simply the understanding and exploration of the non-material parts of ourselves and life. Now that I understand this, I have no problem saying that yes, I am spiritual!
Religion is something else altogether from spirit or spirituality. According to Dictionary.com, religion is: 1. A set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of superhuman agency or agencies usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing or conducting human affairs. Religion is essentially trying to explain and codify the non-material as well as provide rules for the “best” human behavior. This is quite different than exploring our non-physical, or spiritual side. For me, a set moral code was too rigid for me to follow and made aligning myself with a particular religion challenging. I consider myself to be an honest and good person and many of the moral codes seemed arbitrary and did not ring true for me. I now understand that religions are created by people to help understand and codify spirit.
Many of the differences in religious doctrines have to do ultimately with the cultural differences of the people who created them. Perception affects us so deeply that three different individuals, having heard the same story, will recall, perceive, and understand it quite differently. I believe that this cultural perspective explains much of the world’s conflict and differences in idealogy. Einstein was a brilliant man, and this quote sums up this idea very nicely, “All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree.” Now that I do not feel that I have to swallow the whole enchilada of Christianity, or Hinduism for example, I can more freely explore the ideas expressed in various religious texts and believe and follow what resonates for me.
I believe we are moving into a time of more true spirituality in which the world of free and open communication has opened up in such a way that we no longer need to receive spiritual ideas through any one person or religious institution. We can all be free to be spiritual however we see fit! We are not likely to be named a heretic and burned at the stake or ostracized by our community. What a wonderful time of religious and spiritual freedom! I am taking advantage of this by learning as much as I can about different spiritual beliefs whether they are religious or not and finding what fits for me. I will finish off this article with a quote that is not religious, but is certainly spiritual! May you each find your spiritual path joyous and empowering.
You are here to enable the divine purpose of the universe to unfold. That is how important you are! ~ Eckhart Tolle
Love Asks Great Things Of Us
By Gloria Constantin
Love asks great things of us.
This is not so much about your willingness to sacrifice the ego’s demands
for certainty and reassurance, or
for validation of personal worthiness.
This is not really about giving up your shirt or sandwich, your plate of pasta, or even your bed.
It is about saying yes and stepping into the wilderness with open arms and
Love asks us to show up and do what needs to be done. Spend more time with those we love. Listen to what others are asking of you. Pay attention to what others need. How can you be of service? Pay attention. The information is in the request. Pitch in at the homeless shelter or the humane society. Volunteer to deliver a meal. It doesn’t matter if you feel ready, or if you believe that you have prepared sufficiently. Your willingness to do what needs to be done, to be directed if and as necessary, to welcome the experience of a learning curve, and the courage to engage the curve, are some of what becoming an activist for love needs and requires.
Love asks us to show up and do what needs to be done. The Occupy Wall Street revolution in Zuccotti Park is a profound example of this. Love one another; Love thy neighbor as thyself; Do unto others as you would have others do to you, and Whatever you do for the least of these, you do for me are some of the phrases that precisely describe the phenomena of love manifesting now in New York and as well in dozens of other cities across the United States. Thousands are showing up to do what needs to be done. And what needs to be done? We need to pick ourselves up from the floor of our despair and shake off the trance of powerlessness. We need to stand up to injustice and to those who have benefited from it. We need to organize around fairness. We need to be selfless, offering our skills and talents to each other. We need to share our shelter, and our food. We need to re-vision ourselves and our paradigms, not just for our sake, but for the sake of the world – our world. Personal sacrifices may be necessary to alleviate the tremendous injustices that are all around us, inside of every minute of every day, but with perseverance, we will succeed. Love is and always has been on our side.
Love demands courage. Love demands that we connect to each other. We are required to be brave in the face of uncertainty. When we give of ourselves, we do not know how we will be received. We do not know if the outcome we seek will come to pass. We do not engage out of love because we have a stake in glorious end-results; rather, we actively engage our minds, hearts, and bodies to the extent of what we have been called to do, using every ounce of our gifts, talents, and endurance to bring to bear what love requires. When love calls, you will not always feel ready. You may feel that your research is incomplete or that you have not spent enough time practicing. Sometimes we feel deficient; we are not quite up to the task. Sometimes we are literally deficient, but not necessarily in a way that would prevent us from showing up and participating.
Here is one example. At youtube you can find the story of a young Iraqi man, a hopeful singer, who was made an Australian citizen through adoption. He and his brother were found in a park, in a shoebox, by nuns who then delivered the babies to an orphanage not far from the war-ravaged area in which they had been found.
Neither of these infants had identification. Moreover, they were deformed and maimed, as both were missing substantial portions of their arms, and at least one of them was also crippled in both legs. Even so, because of the love of their adoptive mother, an Australian woman, they were nourished in both heart and body, and released to express the gifts of their souls. In the interview that precedes his audition, Emmanuel tells his story. When he speaks, his face is radiant. It is only as he walks the wings of the stage to center that the camera reveals the rest of his body. His arms are stumps, his legs are not the same length, and his walk is crooked.
It doesn’t matter. Emmanuel is filled with hope, with possibility, and with the love of his art. He has been immeasurably nurtured by the love of his mother. Though Emmanuel is physically not whole, love has made him whole. And here is the magic of love: showing up does not require that you arrive on the scene perfectly polished and complete. It is in the process of opening yourself to love that you are healed. Love itself heals you.
For his audition, Emmanuel chose John Lennon’s Imagine. This song expresses a vision for a world in which the circumstances of Emmanuel’s early life, the same circumstances that countless live in, cannot exist because the fear and greed that created them do not exist. A world in which there is nothing to kill or die for is a world that has been transformed by love. Emmanuel made of his personal story and condition of body a powerful and moving icon for the truth that love does not require our perfection, but only our willingness to show up on love’s behalf. I do not know if Emmanuel went on to win fame and fortune, but the brave work he did, of showing up as he was, no doubt inspired many to reach for their potential. This is what love, allowed to express through imperfection, can do.
The greatest thing that love asks of you and that you can do on behalf of love is to show up and participate. You don’t have to look good. You don’t have to be good. You do not have to be perfect in your delivery; you just need to show up. So you don’t achieve all your goals one day. So you didn’t execute perfectly. Don’t let that stop you. Don’t give up. Do not seek personal rewards. Do not look for pre-conceived results. Be patient with yourself and others. Be kind to yourself and others. Love is, after all, patient and kind. You will, through the humble act of opening your heart so that love can work through you, make the personal discovery that love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. You will find strength you did not know you had. Come as you are, and get ready to receive the blessings of love: when you open to love you reconnect to who you are, you are connected to others, and you will remember your purpose. Love asks great things of us but also gives them back.
© 2011 Gloria Constantin. All rights reserved.