When mid-September arrives I feel the anxious pull of letting go. As autumn calls forth the fire of summer in one last quick burst of color, I can’t help but feel a tug of melancholy watching life give way to the elements of the season. Then winter plunges life into a deep freeze and somehow I relax into the slow pace of darkness. It is is the season of the writer and the poet. A time to give way completely to the magic of night and let the imagination travel where it will.
The inner fire kindles alongside the hearth fire, both ignited to keep the “home” warm. Outer distractions lesson their draw as the cold calls the body inside to keep warm. These days my daily walks with the dogs are brisk and quick, unless I give into their appetite for gnawing at “stick-sicles.”
A pause allows the sight to expand and sometimes eyes meet in acknowledgement.
I sometimes wonder what it would be like to live in a place without clearly defined seasons. Perhaps I would get used to the extremes of a nearly endless summer or winter, but it is more likely I would feel restless with waiting for change. The body and mind get used to cycling and the ebb and flow it offers. Growth wants to circle back to decay before new growth occurs. As a writer, I rely upon the seasons. Summer gives me permission to turn outward and enjoy life unconfined. To take a reprieve from the page waiting for words and give way to the sun’s joy. Fall, in turn, prepares the nest for the enveloped life.
Digging into the folds of darkness is much easier in winter. One must welcome the night or perhaps go mad trying to ward it off. Then spring arrives just in time to awaken the sluggish body back to life. Winter is long here, but not quite too long.
It begins for us with my daughter’s birthday, which falls in early December. Soon after, we set up the Dicken’s village and fairy lights are lit inside and outside the house. Even though my children are no longer tiny, the season still feels magical.
Although I do miss traveling, the colder weather offers an excuse to hunker down and stay put. Most days I’m content to sit beside the fire and create even when it’s not always in the form intended. I seem to be at another impasse with the WIP, not quite sure how the protagonists are going to cross their paths again and when. As I wait for them to tell me, I turn to other endeavors.
I have friend, a fellow Indie author, who is encouraging me to grow my Instagram presence. She tells me I can’t simply post pretty photos without relevance and so I am urging the muse to try new directions. In the process, I’m finding short poems through erasure to post. The eye searches for words that pull while the hand blackens newsprint. It offers a strangely satisfying means to create something new out of what already exists. Rebirthing text in new form, I often find myself inside the process.
I haven’t been pulled by the blogging muse for quite some time. We are living in challenging times, it’s so obvious it feels redundant to write it. Times that affect each of us in slightly, or vastly, different ways. Every day I am aware of the white, middle-class privilege I am living in. My home is in a first world country, albeit one that is for a short while longer (thank God!) being ruled by a crazed while man (I’ll have more to say about white male privilege later). I have a nice warm home, ample food, my health, loving companions, and the family finances are sound. I have, in essence, all of my needs met and more. There are so many who do not.
This is, in essence, why I have not mustered the creative impulse to wax poetic as of late. To me quite honest, I am wrangling, instead, with a sometimes over-whelming sense of dismay and, at times, a healthy dose of anger by those who would rather live in, and try to pull the rest of us, into the world of “What ifs.” I know I have written about this before, and I can’t promise this will be my last post about it.
I have two dear friends with whom I have weekly discussions about our current perceptions of spirituality. One is older, one is younger than me, which doesn’t really matter, but for ease of distinguishing them in this post. I met my older friend during the very early stages of my exploration into my spiritual self. As she recently reminded me, she introduced me to the world of Tarot, past-lives, and more. A Virgo like me, she has always had a strong grounding in reality, a fierce lean towards justice, and a heart big enough to hug the world. I don’t, quite honestly, know where I’d be without her.
I met my younger friend much later. She came to my house one summer day when I was hosting a gathering of “light-workers.” And, although she practices shamanism and sometimes speaks to animals, she too is grounded in the here-and-now. For me, she is a reminder that one can live in both worlds and still keep your head above the watery world of, well, let’s just say it, conspiracy. Neither one of us belong to the “light-workers” group any more because the core ethics do not resonate with us, but we both still consider ourselves spiritual beings.
When I talk to my older friend, who has just completed a certification course in Qigong, I empathize with her struggle to figure out how to be authentic. We are both in the category of privileged white western women. She was not born into the teachings of Qigong, just as I was not with yoga, yet we are both drawn to the practice and philosophy. My younger friend was drawn to learn shamanism even though she did not come to it through the traditional path of lineage. She too is a white, middle-class woman living in this first world nation we each call home.
The subject of authenticity comes up often when I talk to my friend who is trained in Qigong. We are both concerned with the rifts that are occurring in the world and what it means to live authentically in a world that is rife with struggle to define, or redefine, itself. We are both trying to figure out where we fit into it all. “I know I pretty much introduced you to spirituality,” she tells me with some guilt. Yet, I will forever be grateful that she did. My soul was craving belonging. It yearned for voice. These days, my friend finds grounding in debunking popular conspiracies propagated by the “spiritual” world. I feel her struggle.
I still believe we can, and should, exist as spiritual beings. This is our essence, this is who we are. Should we, though, cling to the false holds of “New Age” spirituality? The thinking that “I know something that few others do,” the belief that “I have a power that others will never have,” etc. All that ego-driven nonsense that gets us, frankly, nowhere but divided from ourselves and each other?
We, as humans, are endowed with brains that are designed to process information through logic and deduction. We are also born of the same essence that exists in all life. Yet this is over-looked through our ego-centric need to feel “special.” I use that term in the broadest sense of the word, because “special” can also mean the need to be “right,” or the need to be “dominant.”
Our human brains cannot know everything. Nor should they, perhaps. Mystery is what drives us. It’s what motivates us and sparks the desire to keep living. Seeking knowledge is part of the human condition, but I wonder these days how much this seeking has led us to go astray from our true, authentic nature.
The questioning brain is not inherently dangerous, but when the questioning is unfounded, or premised upon ego-centric fears and insecurities, should the questioning be propagated?
I grew up with in a household ruled by a for the most part, loving and intelligent, albeit very insecure, white man. He had some college education, but was not educated, as no one can be, in every area of knowledge. Yet his ego was driven by a desire to feel like he “knew it all” and “knew best.” I have met a lot of white men of a similar nature. They are often quick to call others wrong in their need to be better, or know better. Frankly, I have lost my tolerance for this.
I fully realize that this is not solely a white-male-privilege issue, but it can be particularly dangerous when it is. One need to simply look at the pattern of “his-tory” to see it. One need only look at the dangerous state the POTUS has incited to see it. Ruling by the ego-centric need to feel dominant and special, and propagating lies and “what-ifs” that are not grounded in logic, creates a world filled with division and mistrust.
It serves no good to insist you are “all-knowing” when your all-knowing beliefs cause harm to others. One must rule by the heart, as well as the mind. There is a dance that occurs when peace is the objective, rather than division. It’s called harmony. It’s driven by love. Not fear. These days I find myself doing more unsubscribing and practicing non-engagement rather than trying to argue with fear. I realize we are all struggling in our own way to find our authentic selves and to create a more authentic world. I still hold the belief that we are more good than evil and that no dark force, but our own individual shadows, has taken over the world. I cling to this, because it feels both true and essential. We will always make mistakes, we will always be imperfect, but it we can choose to live seeking the good that is inherent in each other and in ourselves. It we seek what is True, what is of love, and what is uniting, then we all come out “on top.”
Welcome to the first in my series of some of the best independent authors and writers you probably haven’t read yet, but really should. With so many new books being independently published every day, it is simply impossible to keep up with them all. But over the next few days, we can explore writers (some established, some brand spanking new) who might otherwise be under the reading radar. To get us started, here are some fabulous fables for the fantasy connoisseur…
Annabelle Franklin – Gateway To Magic & The Slapstyx
I’m a writer, musician and rescuer of ex-racing dogs. I live in a quirky little shed on the South Gower coast in South Wales UK. The landscape is stunning and magical, providing plenty of inspiration for fairy tales and fantasy.
When a family member had a phase of video game addiction, I wondered how he would manage in a dimension…
My neighbour stood six feet back from the doorstep to collect the heavy box that I had been babysitting since its delivery. His eyes were fixed on the headscarf I use to cover my baldness.
“We’ve heard you have cancer?”
“I can see you are on chemo,” he nods at the hairless head. “Will it help at all?”
“It might buy me some time…”
“Cool. Thanks for clearing that up. We’ve been watching you since the ambulance came a couple of months ago, but of course, we couldn’t just ask…”
That is how the conversation could have gone. Instead, all I got were thanks for minding the parcel and some curiously furtive looks, as if one of us should be ashamed of themselves for some reason, whether that would be him for what was going through his mind, or me for having cancer in the first…
Perhaps it’s because my early years found me inside the cult of the Hare Krishnas, and later in the cult of family dysfunction where truth was suppressed with fear; and perhaps it’s because I am, once again, finding myself immersed in the cult-like group-think of the spiritual world, but I’m beginning to seriously worry about how pervasive the cult-mentality is and how damaging to truth it can be.
Unless you are living blissfully unaware inside your own little bubble, you’ve no doubt heard about Qanon and all the damage it has created through its false rhetoric and dangerous accusations that are founded upon fear and lies. Or, perhaps you are a believer in its unproven claims.
I know many people who are, to some degree or another. The ones I know are mostly self-proclaimed “lightworkers” who believe they have been chosen to help save the world. For awhile, I wanted to be one of them. These days, though, I often find myself shaking my head in dismay as I watch people I care about falling headfirst, and willfully, down the rabbit hole of yet another cult that only serves to harm through an abuse of power.
And, I wonder, where are we continuing to go wrong?
In my own experiences with cult-think, there is always at least one figure positioned into a place where power can be abused, hungry for attention and adoration. In the Hare Krishna cults that were popular in the 70s, children and women were often drugged and/or abused by male figures in positions of power in the name of religion. Sound familiar? It should. We’ve seen similar behavior played out with priests unearthed in the more recent past.
The repression of women and children, in particular, has long been a habit of religions and spiritual groups. For many of us this is obviously wrong. For some, it’s disturbing. For others it’s accepted. We crave security. We crave belonging. We crave feeling special.
The last one is where I find myself lingering and where I have had to, once again, reassess and redefine my own belonging. As a result I have removed myself from cult-like groups who profess to be “lightworkers” but are ultimately more interested in spreading their own “specialness” than they are the truth. I have found my circles of friends growing smaller, but also expanding, as I turn my attentions more toward the spirituality of truth than the undefined.
But it saddens me, again. More people I love feel like they are slipping away and there is nothing I can do about it. We must all walk our own paths, but my own compass keeps steering me in the direction of truth and unity. I don’t mind wearing a mask if it will save lives. I don’t mind reducing my carbon footprint if it will save lives. I don’t mind taking a vaccine if it will save lives. And, I don’t mind admitting that I am imperfect and don’t have some secret access to a higher knowing that is not accessible to everyone else.
It was dark in the room, as it often is during the daytime. My children, lapsed back into younger years, opened the seldom used front door to let the wild bird inside. It flew, or rather seemed to stumble, bumping along the floor for awhile until it settled under the couch into sleep. There it stayed for quite some time. I can’t tell you exactly how long, as dream time stretches and bends in funny ways. And soon enough the dream shifted, and my feathered seer disappeared.
I left the pileated woodpecker behind in the room we once referred to as our children’s playroom, but is now a library/game room, and found myself inside a museum. Well, that’s not entirely correct. If memory serves me, I was first outside. Once again, the light was muted as you often see in movies to build dramatic effect. Here the old blended with the new, again, and I found my eyes pulled to the stones. No surprise, really. That’s where the seer resides and reads the secrets held within.
I was excited. Sure that there had once been a circle in a place now built up by more modern hands. “See that one,” I pointed, “and that one!” The position, size, and alignment could not be accidental. And then it all began to fall apart. Suddenly I was inside the museum in need of a restroom. Here I found myself literally exposed. The bathroom was more an office than a cell, open to windowed rooms with people inside, and a wide open door where others walked by. And there I sat in the center with my pants down, exposed and worried about what others were seeing and perceiving. My sight pulled in angst to the world constructed around me while the inner spirit struggled to break free and wander back outside with the stones.
I am not surprised by the dream. When one ignores the first sign, another one will inevitably appear. About a week ago, I dreamt of another “play room.” This one was hidden inside my sister’s house. When I stepped inside this unexpected wonder, a child’s dream unfolded. Gradually I was draw to the vast windows where I stood in awe peering into the vast wilderness beyond. As in the dream last night, there were feathered beings. More than one. Young and downy, their colors muted into balls of fluff. Fledglings impossibly large, and birthed forth in autumn instead of spring. No, I thought, it could not be. They were so healthy and vibrant. Filled with the promise of life.
Before I woke completely into morning, I had another dream experience that has lingered with me. It is a brief recall. This time I found myself inside a vehicle with the radio turned on against my will, playing a recording of my voice. The first sounds were those of coughing, as though I was clearing my lungs of congestion. Then the coughing turned into a humming of sorts. “No,” I said embarrassed, “Don’t listen to that.” My voice on display, to my ears, echoed back to me dissonance as I resisted. Then strength grew into a sound that sung of freedom. It felt powerful and clear, now that all the gunk had cleared. “Take care,” the voice urged before it stopped. “Take care of you.”
I find myself now wondering, in the sometimes harsh light of day, how many of us are feeling the same way. This long year that has held fear and constriction for so many of us has, no doubt, left imprints on us. Perhaps, like me, you have used the pandemic and political turmoil as an excuse not to wander outside the confines of containment, and by containment I don’t mean those imposed to preserve health. Rather, I am referring to the free spirit that is a winged thing always yearning to fly. Always yearning to sing to the tune of inner truth. I must remind myself to play. To wander into magic, even if it involves outer restrictions. To let the feathered seer awaken once again and commune with the mysteries of life that return the wonder of the inner child.
Neglecting the soul is never a good thing, as I was reminded before I woke to this day. If we ignore its yearnings, a restlessness sets in. And sometimes, that restless turns to malaise.
I am sitting here, again, trying to make sense of what feels like no sense. The idealist inside of me is struggling to comprehend how nearly 50% of the nation I call home can support a person who is by all moral codes so far from decent that we have redefined humanity. Or maybe we haven’t? Maybe we’ve always had 50% good and 50% bad inside of us and only now it seems we’ve given permission to let the bad overshadow the good.
But I am not okay with this and doubt I ever will be. I am not okay with a white man who cares only for himself ruling a nation in the grip of fear. I am not okay with racism, sexism, homophobia, repression, oppression, inequality, injustice, rape, and all the other aspects of that define what is morally reprehensible inside of us. I am not okay with the placement of one self above another. Yet here we are, again. And, here I sit in the midst of a currently undecided election wondering when and how it all went wrong. Again.
We have work to do. That is one thing that has become glaringly clear. Collective work. And, individual. I know I must ask myself am I doing enough? Am I doing what is right not only for myself, but for every being that shares this living planet with me. Right now all I want to do is weep, but weeping provides a temporarily relief to the pain of a collective wound that desperately needs tending.
And so I think perhaps I must look at the term service too, and what it means in the definition of the self within the whole and the whole within the self. And I think perhaps I must look at the term fear before I search through love. The fear that exists inside the individual self and inside the self that is the whole. I must ask myself what pieces am I willing to untangle and how far can the reach be extended? We are all, in some way, complicit in this state we have created for ourselves. Right now it feels like a living nightmare, but, if truth be told, this living nightmare has been playing out for thousands of years.
It is, thus, not surprising that we would resist waking from it. And, in turn, realizing that we need not enchain another who does not look on the outside the same as us, that we need not rape into submission, or ravage land that simply asks to nurture us. We have taken up arms in the defense of fear, we have long held the righteous hand of anger and mistrust, and we have long looked into the myopic lens of the “advancement” of the self over the whole. It’s then perhaps little wonder at all that we find ourselves at this place in time still holding fast to the defensive grip of our fears.
We travel through the shadowlands yet we are still resisting the light. It sounds cliche, but it is, nevertheless, truth. We are interdependent, intricately connected, bound through invisible webs that can tie us, or unite us. And, we must work through the individual self, to recognize the whole.
A collection of guided meditations, designed to open aspects of the personality in as gentle and natural way as the petals of the rose open at the touch of the sun. Each inner journey will carry you to a haven within your own psyche from which to explore layers of your own being, learning their meaning and purpose.
From mystical and silent castles, to the song of the unicorn… each journey takes you deeper into your inner being and carries you out beyond the stars.
Stories stir the imagination, casting images upon the screen of mind that allow us to explore, in safety, aspects of our lives and being that we might otherwise avoid or overlook. There is a rich vein of experience in memory that can be mined for its treasures. One of the simplest and best ways of exploring the…