During the quiet moments of yesterday, my mind played back childhood memories of Christmas. In particular, I thought of the holiday spend with my grandmothers when I was eight. I had three grandmothers during most of my childhood, as my birth parents divorced when I was quite little.
The first scenes of Christmas past to slip into my conscious mind were wrapped in favorite gifts from “Grammie.” Grammie loved to shop and she had a wonderful knack for gifting the perfect presents, even though she hardly knew me. The one Christmas I can remember spending at Grammie’s house, when I was eight-years-old, she made me a ruffled skirt of shiny green-and-white plaid, bought me the Sugar Plum Fairy Effenabee doll, and a pale pink satin nightgown with a matching robe. I could not have been more delighted with the contents of her beautifully wrapped gifts nestled under Grammie’s tree and labeled for me.
I never saw Grammie again on Christmas, but for several years she sent her perfect gifts perfectly wrapped inside an oversized box addressed to me and my sister. Inside the brown packing container, a handmade wreath adorned with ornaments welcomed us to the holiday’s delights. Tiny rocking horses, french horns, and silver bells hung from the evergreen boughs until they were untangled and nestled into boxes of ornaments to be hung in later years on our own trees.
I don’t remember the gifts of my other grandmother gave me that Christmas. Instead, I remember sitting in her green velvet chair in the living room admiring her crystal bowl of ribbon candy almost-too-pretty-to-eat. Yet, it’s enough. A simple memory that contains more feeling than images, but evokes the joy of the holiday in my child self.
These brief, simple memories are from a cherished, yet troubled Christmas now long past. I have many more, filled with vivid scenes of laughter, food, and gifts shared with my stepfamily. Yet not one stands out for me in particular. I think perhaps it’s easier to take for granted what we become used to, even if it only occurs once a year.
I wonder what my own children will choose to cherish from past holidays as they grow older. No doubt they will be different, shaped by their individual perspectives of joy and love.
It was pure euphoria. I can only liken it to the ideal of heaven. In the dream I was in England, running in a field of white flowers. They were puffed out like dandelions gone to seed, each step lifted their tufted wishes into the wind. It felt like freedom, unbounded. The wild, untethered soul roaming in the landscape of home.
There were other dreams nestled around it. Equally vivd, and all weaving together in the complex mysterious way that dreams do. The crowded bus with black seats and no bathroom. “Wilder’s Barn” beside an earthen mound filled with rubble. The black bride in the white wedding dress who wove in and out of each scene. A perfect marriage of yin and yang without a groom. And there was me, again, now flying over Earth’s power lines. The return of euphoria as I followed the dragon of stones in my helicopter. Strange vivid dreams that seem in many ways impossible to decipher, but their imprint strikingly clear.
I imagine there are as many definitions of “heaven” as there are people, and I have no doubt I found mine in this network of dreams. When I left the field and the dragon lines, I lost it. The mundane and all its clutter surrounded me with its burden of worry and obligation. Other’s needs to be met and mine left not quite filled or released.
But, this is life, isn’t it? One can hardly escape the realm of “needs and obligations.” “Wilder’s Barn” is never quite open to the magic of the wild soul. It may open briefly, but the doors eventually close around us and we must, inevitably, return to the mundane.
It is said that true freedom in an inside job, but how many of us can say we really live inside of it? To be unaffected by life is not the norm. We may feel love and experience, in moments, euphoric joy, but we also feel fear, pain, suffering, angst and the entire spectrum of human emotions. That’s part of being human.
Yet what a gift it was to run in that simple field of flowers, alone and unencumbered by life. How exhilerating it was to fly above the land and trace the pattern of Earth’s power lines through the body of rocks. To be reminded that magic is always there, waiting to be felt, waiting to be freed. Waiting to be born. Even if just in the land of dreams.
I found her under the waterfall curled into rebirth. Above, the sun wove a rainbow of colors into the droplets, creating an alchemy of water and fire. Charged with each wavelength of light, the waterfall caressed her skin, opening the pathways to cells where life is born. And I a mere witness to wonder…
These days I don’t spend a lot of time in wonder. Instead, I find myself staring at the here-and-now, trying to live each moment as it arrives to the best of my abilities. Attempting to learning, in the never-ending process of discovery, what I can from this unfolding life. Each day brings a new challenge and sometimes I resist stepping into magic beyond the mundane.
I am always glad when I shed the coat of the everyday. Even though I don’t do much energy healing these days, I participate in a weekly distant healing circle. In the last session, the scene above unfolded as soon as I closed my eyelids to the energies of light. In the place of stillness, when my body opens to a consciousness beyond everyday thought, I step into the realm of wonderment. Often the inner sight fills with images and scenes and I find myself transported, for those minutes, into another realm of existence that goes beyond the mundane.
Yesterday, as the energy of healing love broke open my cells into their dance, I gazed upon a waterfall that caught the sun’s rays as it fell upon the receiving form. I have long been fascinated by water. It’s my primary element, followed closely by Earth, so perhaps it is not surprising. Simple in structure, with hydrogen bonded to oxygen, water’s properties and “magical” abilities defy logic. As water enters a vessel it adapts to the structure enfolding it, taking on its form. When something is placed into water, it is either repelled by water or its properties are adopted by it, whether they be color, odor, shape, taste, or structure. When water freezes, it grows in size instead of shrinks. When it’s heated, it turns into vapor. We can’t live without it. We are, in essence, mostly water.
It becomes us and we become it. As Dr. Emoto, and others who have worked with water have demonstrated, water also responds on an emotional level to its containers. Life, in turn, thrives when water is clean and structured by nature. When you stand near, or beneath a waterfall, you cannot help but feel energized by its presence. Some legends speak of disembodied souls gathering at waterfalls to be cleansed and purified of the imprints of life.
I doubt there are many who would argue that water has the potential to balance and cleanse the physical and emotional body. Adding salts, oils, herbs and other healing aides, enhances the healing effect of water, which is why detox baths are so popular and leave one feeling oh-so-much better after the bathing than before. Entering a body of salt water is like coming home. It’s, in many ways, a return to the state of the womb.
Waterfalls offer a different type of cleansing. Their energy drums the cells to life. Add sunlight to the falling water and alchemy occurs. It is the yang to water’s yin. The spark that ignites the potential of life. The result of this alchemy in the form of the visible rainbow never fails to inspire hope and awe in those who bear witness to it. Although I was not expecting to meet the above scene in my inner vision, I cannot think of a more fitting place for healing. If I could have brought her there in person, I would have, instead the place was brought to the circle that held her in healing. And it felt like both water and sun had come to offer their gifts of life to a beloved form.
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.