Execution Dream

December 16, 2011

In the dream I had been a tourist in Iran for some reason and got rounded up with some other Westerners the govt. deemed spies. We were all standing in line to be processed for lethal injection. This was like a dream I had earlier this year in that I was certain the dream was real. I felt the emotions one might feel in this situation. Very upsetting. Who will take care of my cats? How long will it be before somebody realized I haven’t come back and I’m not going to? I thought of all the things going on at my house, the mail arriving, the furniture and the laundry detergent and all those things I’d left to come back to only I wouldn’t this time.

Another condemned individual asked one of our captors what it would be like once we went in to the death chamber, how long it took, how much would it hurt, and so forth. He was told that we would be given a sedative beforehand so we wouldn’t care about much about the pain once it all started to take place.

I realized then (he was ahead of me in line) that in about 20 minutes I would be dead, that no pardon was coming, that this was uncomfortable and I didn’t like it and I wanted to keep living the routine of my life. I heard another one of our captors, a lady, telling someone that death is always coming for everybody and this situation is no different from the ones we stand in from moment to moment anyway.

Being led down the hall to the death chamber. Dread sadness terror, feeling the concerns of my life grabbing at me, unfinished business, who will take care of my cats, who will be stuck with sorting out my financial affiars and how are they going to do it since no once else knows my account numbers, I’m leaving a mess, etc.

Thinking, I’ll say some mantras. Wait, I can only think of one, and I don’t know if it’s right for this situation. I haven’t practiced enough. I’m not ready. And feeling bad about that, like I’ve failed.

I woke to hear my husband getting out of the shower downstairs and instantly I knew I’d been dreaming.

So this is what I want to tell myself in this situation, now that I’m awake: You learned some mantras, say what you remember, and just be thankful that you took the time to learn them and have them now. You feel distressed and unready – death rarely happens any other way, so just accept your feelings. Just like life, with death things happen outside of your control, whether you want them to or not or whether or not you’re ready for them, so be gracious with yourself. You’re not going to feel ready.

Synchronicity. The first article I ran across this morning was this one: http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2012/01/hitchens-201201?fb_ref=social_fblike&fb_source=profile_multiline

So there’s been a death theme going on all year for me. I didn’t post the earliest events in the chain, I guess I should, but now I’m thinking, somebody’s trying to tell me something. Am I going to die soon?

This isn’t the first time I’ve felt the shadow of death hanging over me. I was hospitalized with pnuemonia when I was 6, and it was scary and I probably needed counseling for it. My obsession with “Is God going to get me and am I going to Hell” began later though, when I was 7, and I’m not sure if it’s because my grandmother scared me with her Jesus bullshit or if I heard something scary at church. There was no one for me to talk to about my fears.

Another time I thought I was going to die in an ER room. ER doctors gave me an initial assessment and decided to admit me to the hospital, so that made me ineligible for treatment in the ER, but there was no room ready in the hospital yet. I thought they were going to let me die there in the waiting room. I started to flail about and shout and they wheeled me into a nearby room, where I thought some help would arrive, but it was just to keep me from disturbing others. That was one long damn wait I can tell you.

Maybe it’s just a case of things coming up in midlife that you haven’t successfully processed earlier in life. Maybe I need to make out my will.

 

Ngondro dreams

October 26, 2011

I pick up and put down Ngondro practice because it’s inspiring and helpful but parts of it are also too hard to do if you didn’t get the hang of them in the first place. Singing in Tibetan while doing complicated mudras is a challenge for me. I recently went to a Ngondro practice retreat and got some of those kinds of issues worked out, and got reminded of some important things I’d forgotten. It was pretty helpful and revitalized my commitment to practice.

During the initial training for this practice the teacher said it might cause us to dream of insects leaving our bodies, and that this is a good sign.

But every time I get back on the Ngondro practice I dream of being attacked by insects or infested with parasites. Not sure what that means, but hopefully if I practice enough I’ll get to the point where I dream of them leaving.

What makes this town special, and what do we need to make it an even better place to be? Think in fantastic terms, but justify your answer. Do we need a gigantic disco globe over downtown to throw festive colored light on the streets and buildings because it will make everybody feel good? Do we need a military base to increase the number of dating opportunities for young women here? Should we randomly assign all residents to paintball teams for mandatory games every month as a community building activity? How about a rash of UFO sightings and national news coverage to raise the city’s profile?

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Several years ago I went to a witchcraft convention. It wasn’t the kind of witchcraft one normally thinks of, where you sacrifice animals and say incantations to get back at your enemies. But there was some spellwork done to try and bring about a more egalitarian and just society, which could put a lot of defense contractors and lawyers out of work and therefore make the world seem unfriendly and scary to them, so maybe it was actually the same thing as sticking pins in dolls of people you don’t agree with. But that’s a topic for another day.

Now I need to clarify what my definition of a spell is. A spell is a naming and solidifying of intent. For example, wedding vows are a type of spell, and mission statements are too. They force you to clarify what your goal is and feel how deeply you want to commit to it. In pagan ritual, song, dance, and symbolic gesture are designed to help people internalize the goal all the way down to the level beneath the waking mind – down to that silent mind behind your conscious mind which makes sure to sneak a pack of Marlboros into the grocery cart even though you decided to quit last week. Or dial your old boyfriend’s number when you meant to call your aunt.

Most of the spells and rituals taught and performed at this gathering had to do with personal development. Like helping people deal with their limitations and fears and get past them and move on, or just feel more engaged with their lives, or envision new goals, that kind of thing.

One of the big themes of the gathering had to do with community. Like, making sure you have a social network to support you and where you can offer support, because such a relationship makes the individual and the community stronger and leads to a better quality of life for most of those involved.

Okay – now I’m getting to the point. There were a couple of senior members of the national witching association there and they talked about a spell they did for their town. Pardon me but this was a long time ago and I don’t remember the specifics, but they believed an unwholsome trend was starting in the community and they wanted to bring in more positive influences. They got together with a group of like-minded people and came up with a statement about what they wanted to bring about for their town. Maybe it was a greater sense of local identity or a better relationship between elements of the community.

Anyway they got a group together in a room with a big map and defined the perimeter of the area they wanted to cover with the spell, marking specific places on the map. Then they did a ritual with it. Next, they went out in small groups to do rituals at the locations marked on the map. Naturally these rituals had to be small and inconspicuous so as to avoid getting anybody burned at the stake. Both of these folks believed the ritual had in fact benefitted the town. I would say at the very least the activity forced them all to get clear about what they valued about where they lived and how they could contribute to it. Plus they had a good time doing it and strengthened their social bonds with each other.

I was taken with this idea because at the time, the Greensboro neighborhood where I lived was haunted by a serial rapist. It was amazing how much the feel of the community changed as a result. Stories about what was going on cast a kind of spell on the community, making folks uncomfortable, suspcious, and afraid. When you feel like that in your neighborhood, it changes how you feel about your life and the world in general. It’s poison beacause it disempowers people and makes them hole up in their homes, weakens them with fear. One sociopath can cast a large, dark shadow over a huge area and large number of people.

I got a map of the neighborhood and was in preliminary stages of planning a spell to exorcise the rapist, but I couldn’t come up with a mission statement for it. Should the spell be about safety for all residents? If so, what if that covered the rapist? Safety for him might not be a good idea because it could come at someone else’s expense. Should the spell be about revealing the rapist so that he could be caught? How could we work the healing of the community into that? And so on. I also had trouble getting together a crowd of folks interested enough in this project to want to get together. The people I wanted to involve all belonged to different social groups and it would have been uncomfortable getting them together in both a new social situation and a weird project.

So I never followed through on the community spell, but stories about the rapist stopped appearing in the news anyway. I like to believe just thinking about doing it was enough to banish or deactivate him.

Now I’m thinking about community spells again. I still don’t have a group of folks I could work with on it, and I don’t know what the specific aims of the spell should be outside of making life in this town better. One needs to set such goals responsibly, because getting what you want can have some unintended and sometimes unwanted repercussions.  Do we need better restaurants? More places to shop? Better relationships between racial and socioeconomic groups so that there’s a higher level of social comfort between strangers? Safer communities where neighbors are connected to each other? A pervasive sense that one can express opinions without being labeled a racist, leftist, rightist, or asshole, and an accompanying sense that it’s okay to listen to the opinions of others without feeling threatened?

Dead Girl Dream

February 7, 2011

You know how it is sometimes in dreams. You start the dream in the middle of a situation in progress and you just try to figure out what to do based on what sense you can make of it. So maybe I should have handled finding myself with this dead girl a little differently, but I was working within the limits of the situation.

We were in a well house, which I will explain for the sake of young city folk. Before rural people had running water, they had a wide pipe sticking up in the yard and that pipe had water at the bottom, many feet down. Often there’d be a big spool with a handle on it over the mouth of the well so people could reel a bucket up and down to get water. And really sophisticated folk built a little shed around their wells so they could get water or do laundry or whatever out of the rain.

So I was in this wellhouse looking at this dead girl on the concrete floor, and she was propped against the wall, her head  in a cloth sack and sagging to one side, cold cold cold and whiiiiiiiite. I got the feeling she was 22 years old. She was wrapped in plastic and tied in twine in such a way that it almost looked like a strapless evening dress. Maybe she’d been hanged.

The well house had a concrete floor but the well itself was just a hole in the floor. I’ve never actually seen one like that. So I’m standing there wondering what to do about this, run call the cops or what, but it’s pretty obvious something was in progress here so maybe I should just finish it.  She’s here, she’s roped to a pulley, somebody obviously meant to drop her into this well. It’s not clear where I am or if anybody else is here or who I’d go to for help, so I yank the rope. It pulls her off the floor and drags her over the well hole and I let go. She sinks like she’s heavy.

And now that I think about it, the structure itself was more like one of the reconstructed  buildings at Town Creek Indian Mound, in that there was sun shining through thatched roof and eaves and the entrance was kind of like a snail shell – it was a hallway that looped around before it allowed you inside.

Immediately I stared having regrets. Nobody’s going to be able to drink from this well now. I start to wonder if this is my grandmother’s property, and if I will live here again, and not have access to water because of what I’ve done.

Then I go to leave.  I notice water leaking from the floor in places. As I reach the doorway to outside, I step and feel the ground move, flail and catch myself on the doorframe. The floor under my foot was a piece of plywood floating on the water of the underground spring. “I was almost just like the dead girl,” I thought. As cold as it was, I could see myself being immobilized by the water, and the plywood settling in over my head, and not being able to get out. There were a couple of other bad places in the floor like that I noticed, and I made a mental note to warn people about them.

Maybe somebody’d just pulled her out of the well, and I made the wrong assumption about what to do.

Those buildings at Town Creek had dead people in them. The indians there lived with their dead.

To Blog or to Facebook

April 29, 2010

I quit blogging because it seemed like the entire world quit reading blogs and only wanted to Twitter or Facebook. I myself turned to the dark side and started a Facebook page. At first I didn’t realize my privacy settings weren’t restrictive enough, and later I adjusted them accordingly. But then Facebook made some adjustments to itself and my privacy settings went back to the extremely unprivate “Everyone” default setting without my knowledge. Shit on all that.

I found myself wasting too much time with it every morning. I read as a friend who’s a very indiscreet Facebook addict ran her husband into the ground to all her FB friends and subsequently burned down her marriage. This is the same person who posted a bunch of pictures of me at parties at her house during the 90s, pictures in which I had a beer in my hand (and a goofy look on my face) and which a prospective employer was able to view during my interview process.

Recently I got my ass chewed out over a misunderstanding related to an article I posted which I found funny, but which offended a family  member. Did I need any of this shit?

Do I really need to be able to contact people I went to elementary school with who I haven’t seen in decades? Hell no. Blogging is lonely but it is a better distraction from meditation than Facebook is.

Spiders As Totem Animals

November 29, 2009

When Wolf Woman and I still worked at the same place, she fed crows in the side yard every morning. They’d be watching the parking lot and the five of them would swoop in when they saw her truck pull up. She’d come inside and get a bag of stale bread, and outside they’d flap and caw at her feet until she tore up some slices and threw them down.

When she left for another job, Wolf Woman left the feeding of the crows to me. They call to each other when they see me come out with a bag in my hand, but they wait on top of the building or in nearby trees until I go back inside before they come down. I’ve never been able to inspire the kind of devotion they had for Wolf Woman.

Wolf Woman said that it’s because crows are her totem animal, so I suppose they recognize her. I asked  her what she thought my totem animal was, and she said she’d could give me some kind of reading to determine that. On Friday I told her I suspect mine is the spider.

Last night I dreamed I was talking with someone and gradually it got harder and harder to form words correctly. Finally I couldn’t ignore the problem any longer. “Excuse me,” I said, and fished a big daddy longlegs spider out of the corner of my mouth. I fished again just to be sure and found another one, and another one, until I had thrown five or six to the ground. I thought I was finished, but then I noticed more of them crawling up the backs of my arms and up my shoulders, presumably trying to sneak inside my mouth again. 

I dream about spiders periodically, and based on the themes in these dreams it’s hard to tell if they’re friendly or not. The dreams are rarely happy ones, but they tend to happen at times when I need a warning.

The Dilemmas of Sevens

October 27, 2009

So according to the Riso-Hudson enneagram test, my personality fits the description of sevens pretty closely. Sevens entertain many interests. They tend to be the most ADD sorts of the types, I think. Here I am at midlife, having spent way too much time in school and not enough earning real money, and I feel like I never got to learn the things I really want to do because of a shortage of time and money. Here they are:

Learn to play the banjo ukelele

Become a proficient belly-dancer

Spend 8 weeks in Peru attaining basic competence as a Spanish speaker

Write and publish a novel

Spend a month or so at a Buddhist retreat

Go abroad with the Willing Workers On Organic Farms program for six weeks or so

Learn to sew my own clothes

Build an earthbag house

Understand the five-element system in Chinese medicine

Visit Petra

Participate in a sweat lodge

Learn to kayak

Attain some level of enlightenment

Spend time in Jungian analysis

Pay off all mydebts, including mortgage

Complete the Ngondro

Integrate daily meditation and yoga/chi gong into my life in place of surfing the internet for interesting news

Plant my own garden and get a lot of our food from it

Learn to really cook

Become a master in my field

Would it be possible to do all that in say, ten years?

Mabon Ritual Results

September 21, 2009

Last night Quint and I did the Bon-style Mabon ritual I wrote about here. I made the dough for our tormas from a mixture of millet and corn flour with a little rice protein powder thrown in. After we made the tormas, I baked them for 20-30 minutes at 200 degrees to see if that would make them sturdier and less crumbly, and it did work nicely.

Once it got dark we walked down to a park and made vodka offerings to the earth, to the sky, to water, and to fire. We did this by dipping a fingertip into the vodka and flicking drops off a fingertip for each one, then we tasted the vodka ourselves.

I brushed my torma down the length of my lung meridians –  a friend recently reminded me that my usual hours of sleeplessness correspond to the lungs on the chinese body clock. She also suggested that I may have unresolved feelings of grief or an inability to let go of something, because those emotional states correspond with the lungs. I also held the torma against my lower back, which has been creaky lately. Then I threw the torma into the darkness. We had to use Quint’s compass to determine the proper directions to throw our tormas.

It says in Tenzin Wangyal’s book that if the spell works and the malefic influences in question are indeed pacified by the offering, you may dream of insects or fluid or other things like that leaving your body.

I once again couldn’t sleep between the hours of three and five a.m. last night, but during the little sleep I did get my dreams had the flavor of those H.P. Lovecraft movies, Re-Animator and From Beyond. I don’t think that’s a good sign. A former co-worker also made an appearance, a woman I considered a good friend at the time but who I learned later may not have been so kind to me behind my back.

IPod Spell

September 17, 2009

I was reading this book, which is potent magical theory and cuts out a lot of the steps people deem essential to magical practice.  I’ve undertaken the study of pagan ritual with some talented and enlightened folks, but for years I’ve underutilized my magical opportunities because all the steps involved with ritual seemed like too much trouble. Smudge, cast a circle, call in the directions in some flowery and overdone verbal fashion, invoke some dieties, state intent, enact the body of the ritual while straining to reach a meditative or otherwise altered state, raise the cone of energy, cut it loose, fall out, devoke, open the circle. I’m sure I’m leaving something out too. And when you have a number of people involved, there’s a lot of talking and bonding and so forth. It can take all day, and that doesn’t include the prior planning involved. When faced with all that, I often settle for wishing.

So one of the exercises in this book is this: Think of something you want to happen. Come up with some dance movements or steps. Decide this dance means the same thing as your statement about what you want to happen. Dance. Record your results.

I modified this by agreeing with myself that whatever song first struck me in the IPod rotation and my free-form movement to it would mean the same thing as my statement about what I want to happen.  “I will gain proficiency in _________ and will be generously supported by it materially, physically, spiritually and emotionally by December of this year.”

Then I hit the skip forward button on the IPod until I came upon this song. I did a little merengue, a little bellydance. Much fun.

The great thing about actually getting down to spellwork is it forces you to define what you want in specific terms, and also to consider the possible side effects of getting what you want. For example, I’m always nervous about doing spells for money because I’m afraid that will result in a family member croaking and leaving me an inheritance, or me winning an out of court settlement after getting hit by a city bus. It would be hard to enjoy wealth under those circumstances.

Mabon Ritual, Bon Style

September 16, 2009

I think Sunday Quint and I are going to celebrate the Mabon pagan holiday in a Bon Buddhist-flavored fashion. While this might seem like a clash of magical cultures, I still believe that if we could go back far enough, we’d see that both traditions spring from a common root.

Mabon and its predecessor on the pagan calendar of red-letter days, Lughnasadh, are both about reaping the growing season’s harvest and making an offering of part of it as a gesture of respect and gratitude toward harvest gods. I’ve got some dried herbs I grew earlier this year, so I might use those in our ceremony.

In Bon, offerings are made constantly. At the close of a Bon Buddhist meditation session, practitioners dedicate the benefits of any merit they’ve generated to the benefit of all sentient beings. In one Ngondro meditation exercise, practitioners imagine chopping and cooking themselves up as an offering to sentient beings in this and other realms. None of the Gobi Desert dwellers I met during my trip to Mongolia would consume vodka without offering some to the spirits first. But for this ritual, Quint and I plan to offer fingerprint Tormas to any spiritual entities that may be planning to make our lives hard.

Tenzin Wangyal wrote about fingerprint tormas in Healing With Form, Energy and Light.  To make them, you mix up some flour (Tibetans use barley flour) until it’s got the consistency of Play-Doh. (I might include some of my dried herbs in this mixture.) Then women squeeze a lump of dough in their left hands and men in thier right in order to make the torma. It should have the imprint of all five fingers in it. You touch this torma to areas of your body where you suffer affliction. Then you make the torma an offering by tossing it away from you, where malefic influences can feed upon it and become satisfied, hopefully becoming motivated to leave you alone.

If you want to get technical about it, you can so some research to determine the exact direction in which you should throw your torma.  Based on your birthday and your Tibetan astrological sign, one of twelve points on the compass is dedicated to you, and bad influences come from the opposite direction. That’s where you need to throw your torma.  There’s a table in the back of the book that helps you figure that out.

Still don’t know where we can go for this activity. Outside would be nice. But it’s hard to find a place outside where strangers won’t be likely to tramp through at any given time.

The Dad Principle

September 15, 2009

Dads aren’t just guys with kids. They represent a larger force in the universe. This Dad-force, archetype if you will,  has its positive side. But I don’t think I’d be writing about that today.

This subject came up on Sunday while I was hanging out with Sr. Elfman. He’s a teacher, and he was complaining about the father of one of his students. This father, who is divorced from the child’s mother, is suing to have the child removed from Sr. Elfman’s school. He wants the child to go to another school. Wants to drag himself, his ex-wife, and a number of other people into court so he can disrupt the child’s life and assert his Dadness in the largest possible pain-in-the-ass way.

“What is it about Dads?” Sr. Elfman said. “My Dad’s the same way. Can’t ever leave well enough alone. Still loves to blame my mom for everything. Can’t forget about the past. Won’t learn anything new.”

“It’s like they see something going along nicely without them and they think, ‘Hey, I must interfere with that,'” I said.

I see that kind of thinking in my father in law, and I used to see it in my Dad. Once he drove me out of the house, my Dad pretty much made it policy to leave me alone. To my face anyway. He chews my Mom’s ear off about how I’m not doing this or that right. These men, who’ve made some pretty obvious mistakes in their own lives, still think they’re smarter than everybody else and therefore obligated to opine and advise about what you should do instead of what you are doing. To them, life is one big football game. They can’t understand that the game looks different and plays differently to the people on the field than it does to spectators (Dads) on the couch. They don’t understand that the couch is not an appropriate place to make judgements from.

They believe their sole holy purpose is to evaluate and criticize.

This morning I went to Yoga class for the first time in several months. Last night I returned to my Chi Kung class after about a year off.  I’m also slowly getting back into a daily meditation practice. I feel good about all this, but not too good. Because I have an internalized Dad who’s already taking note of these activities. He’s not going to interfere for another few weeks, until I start to get comfortable in my new routine. Then he’s going to start with the evaluations. You didn’t give %100 percent today. You skipped class once this week. You aren’t getting the most out of this. Suddenly, Chi Kung, Yoga, and meditation will be transformed into chores and obligations, so I’ll start mentally checking out during these activities, simply waiting for them to be over.  And the internal Dad will criticize for that too. Hell, by that point, the internal Mom will be helping out. And I’ll get sick of all the nagging and quit classes and meditation again.

A long time ago I read a book called Dark Hearts: The Unconscious Forces That Drive Men’s Lives. Truthfully I can’t remember much about it other than being very impressed with it, so impressed with it I loaned it out to a man I thought could benefit from it and now I don’t have it any more. I hope it’s doing some good in the world. Anyway one thing I took from the book is that deep down, as a group, men are unsure of what their purpose is in the world. Women’s roles are more defined. They have babies and sustain families, and they don’t necessarily need men for that.  For boys whose fathers go to work, there’s always the question of “So what’s he doing while he’s gone all day?” If he asks about that he’ll likely get “I am a financial adviser” or “I broker ocean-going freight.” Those activities are hard for a child to visualize, so said child becomes suspicious of the real importance of what Dad does at work, and anxious about his own future as an adult.

So to make a long story short, men instinctively look for ways to make themselves appear valuable and seem important. In many cases by being big, critical blowhards. Which their children internalize and torture themselves with for the rest of their lives, in some cases long after the actual Dads are dead and buried.

All that said, I’d like to thank my Dad for taking the time to show me what hickory nuts are, and for baking bread from them. The sassafrass root tea was good too. And thanks for showing me how to identify poison ivy and Death’s Head mushrooms, and how to identify the most common types of trees. And for being generally more interesting, level-headed, and funny than any of my other family members. When he wasn’t being an enraged, surly, or simply bitchy jackass. Take some Midol, you hormonal git. You are such a baby that you must whine and bully others when your blood sugar starts to drop or you become the slightest bit uncomfortable. But thanks for not being the total psycho your dad was. Thanks for not putting the rest of the family out on the side of the road, leaving them to walk four hours home, like he did in a dumbass fit of pique.

Bodhicitta Practice

September 10, 2009

For the next 30 days I plan to focus on the Bodhicitta section of Ngondro practices and accumulations. I’m having a hard time with it. Specifically because I can’t believe I’m capable of enlightenment in this lifetime, and because I don’t believe others are either.

The Boddhicitta exercise asks you to think of someone you love, and of how if you could, you’d take on that person’s suffering in order to spare them from it. Once you get a fix on that, you imagine applying that kind of compassion to all living beings, even the people you can’t stand. Now that’s a tall order, but it’s doable. But the next step is a doozy: You commit yourself to achieving enlightenment so that you can help all beings become enlightened.

Well, now that I’ve done some meditation and been to some retreats, I’ve become a little more familiar with just how dark my heart is. Sure I’d like to achieve enlightenment, but even when I’m aware that I’m being a self-absorbed pain-in-the-ass who’s wandering in samsara, most of the I can’t stop.  Here lately I can’t even do sitting practice on a regular basis. I’d rather just feel guilty about not doing it. So, the best I was hoping for with my practice was to simply avoid being reborn into the animal realm in my next life.

With the Bodhicitta vow,  you voice your commitment to work toward enlightenment so you can help bring all sentient beings to enlightenment. That’s a great sentiment, but in the back of my mind, I’m thinking “Come on now. You really mean everybody?”

I hate to keep blaming the Jesus Cult and my background in it, but here I go again. In the mythology I grew up with, we were told there was only one sinless individual. He was also the only one who was capable of working toward the Salvation of everybody. His name was Jesus, and he lived a long time ago. We were to strive to be like him, even though we never could be, and we should always feel bad about it and ask for forgiveness constantly. Through this striving, we might be able to brownnose our way into heaven, but certainly not everybody would and those who were not were going to spend eternity in Hell.

Maybe my Bodhicitta problems stem from being unable to leave the Christian paradigm behind. I learned a lot of guilt skills in church too, which may have something to do with my reluctance to sit on a daily basis. I can’t help but evaluate my practice as I do it, and to feel guilty if I believe I’m not doing it well. And when it does go well, I just remind myself that it won’t go well later, not to get so smug and happy about it. So there’s never a positive reward for doing it, other than the benefits which are related to the practice. Those are significant but I just can’t face the incessant internal nagging that goes on when I sit.

There are plenty of practices that strain plausibility in the Ngondro, but this one is really giving me fits.

Snakebite Dream

September 8, 2009

I was living outside Austin, TX (I’ve never even been there) and was working in my yard. I noticed that toads were getting quite lively in the clover near the house. Later in the day the lively toad area had moved, and I decided to take a closer look because it might mean something. Sure enough, I watched the toads jumping around and saw that it was all happening in front of a rattlesnake. The toads were evacuating ahead of the beast. I was glad I’d noticed, because I’d have walked right over it if I hadn’t.

I went back around the corner of the house, which incidently looked like my maternal grandmother’s house. I’d been so careful about not stepping on rattlesnakes but then I went and got sloppy about handling the one draped around my neck; tried to remove it by grabbing it too far from the head, and it got pissed off and bit the back of my hand. I wasn’t surprised to find the snake there, which is surprising. It was just a low-level dangerous thing that had been there so long I’d forgotten about it or started taking it for granted.

Not sure how, but by the end of the dream I’d been fanged on the back of my other hand.

Teeth were a theme in my dreamland last night. I also dreamed that one of mine fell out while was watching TV in the living room here. I walked down the street to my friend’s parents’ house, which is really across town. They were getting ready for a formal dinner party at their house (evening gowns, tuxedos) but since they were both dentists, (not in reality) they decided to take time out to help me. I spit the tooth out and there it was root and all, longer than my palm and with some jawbone attached. Necrotic black fissures ran along its length. 

I’m not sure if they decided to fix it for free then and there because it was the result of bad work they’d done on my teeth in the past, or if they were just cool that way.

Tarot readings lately have indicated that either I’m deceiving somebody and doing them wrong out of selfishness, or somebody’s doing that to me.  The cards indicate I’m not seeing what’s going on even though it’s right there in front of me, that my blindness is somehow an unwillingness to see on my part. I am capable of some dumbass shit that way. It’s driving me crazy trying to figure this out. The snake dream makes me think of this situation because, although I was adept at doing detective work to find the snake in the grass, I was totally unable to come up with a plan for dealing with the one around my neck. Even though it was right there and had been for a long time, it took me by surprise. 

There’s so much potential for danger from so many arenas in my life right now, I guess I have become numb to it.  Business has been so bad and money’s been so tight, I haven’t been able to afford some of the things that might help mitigate unforseen events. Health insurance is the big one. For several weeks I was riding around with a broken seatbelt, and every time I drove somewhere I’d think, please no accident today. My neighbor me fixed it for free, and if he hadn’t I’d still be riding around in a death trap.

I traded services to get some dental work earlier this year, but the other party has yet to cash in her half of the deal.

Re: Scarier Turn/Lucid Dreams

September 5, 2009

Did some Google research and found references to something called Sleep Paralysis, which is I guess was happened to me in my last post.  Most people who described experiences with it reported feelings that they were pinned by something sitting on their chests. But a few mentioned feeling pressure on their foreheads.

Sleep paralysis happens when stages of sleep get mixed up and start happening at the same time. The reason you can’t move is that your body releases chemical inhibitors to keep you from flailing about in your dreams and possibly hurting yourself.  The sense of terror comes about because the brain’s fear machine, the amygdala, is being put through its paces at that time. Sometimes people in sleep paralysis still dream even though their eyes are open and they’re awake, and those are the people who report being abducted by aliens, according to another article.

People who experience sleep paralysis tend to suffer from sleep deprivation or other disturbances like narcolepsy. In my case I’ve been quite the insomniac here lately.

However, my research also indicated that some people use sleep paralysis to shoehorn themselves into lucid dreams. It looks like it may be a step in the process of being lucid dream proficient. Here I have to admit that over the past several weeks, all of my meditative routines, including those of lucid dreaming, have gone to shit. The only thing I still do on a regular basis is pray to Salgye Du Dalma to help me lucid dream. So maybe I got what I was asking for, though it scared the shit out of me.

Coincidentally, I’ve been reading a book about the history of Central Asian shamanistic practices and thier influence upon Bon Buddhism. This book, Bo And Bon, talks about how in the shamanistic worldview there’s a spirit realm that, while it’s not strictly a part of our world, it has effects in this one. For example, according to the Bo it’s a bad idea to build your house on a spirit road. All that otherdimensional traffic and coming and going will disprupt life in the house on a very subtle level and it can make people sick, and one source reports having an experience similar to sleep paralysis shortly after his parents moved the family house onto a spirit road. People might see or dream of dwarves and such if their home is on a spirit road, and they’ll have to relocate the house. So maybe yesterday’s dwarves and goblins and today’s ETs are the same thing or at least similar.

If you can learn to manage sleep paralysis without feeling terror, that’s probably good preparation for how not to panic in the Bardo.

And Yet A Scarier Turn

September 2, 2009

Fucking covered up in nightmares last night, I was.

It didn’t help that the husband was sleeping restless, up and down a lot, and snoring, so I slept on the couch. The cat food bowl was getting low, so Gin was restless too. Outside there was a lot of first responder traffic. It sounded like everything in town with a siren first went east, then west on the nearby thoroughfare.

I dreamed I looked outside and saw about fifteen Batman figures dashing through the darkness on separate crimefighting missions. It had gotten so bad out there that we needed that many.

Since this was the kind of dream which incorporates stimuli from the real world, it became hard to tell what was dream and what not. But I at least thought I came awake because of pressure on my forehead, in the center and above my eyebrows. It felt like the end of an index finger.

Fuck, that must be cat, I thought. Hussey. That’s pretty brazen, applying a paw to my face like that. Then I opened my eyes and looked and there was no cat, just the edge of the couch and the floor beyond it. I freaked out. But I couldn’t move. So I was screaming “LEAVE ME ALONE!” inside my head over and over, until I had the power to move again and the pressure on my forehead disappeared. At that point I saw Gin the cat was asleep on the back of the couch behind me.

During my panic I was sure a ghost or other unseen, untrustworthy entity was prodding my head. Quite upsetting. At first, I resolved to get up and turn on some lights to better cope with the emotional aftermath, but I pretty much went right back to sleep and dream.

I was walking down a wooded path with my husband. It was a warm winter day after a cold snap. We crossed a small stream full of different kinds of very hungry turtles. I wanted to feed them cat food so they’d have enough calories to make it through till spring, but I’d heard that animals should hibernate on an empty stomach, so I wasn’t sure what to do.

Then we saw an old Oldsmobile on the side of the path. I knew there was a girl alone in there in the front passenger seat. Then I saw the car begin to crumple, like something invisible was crushing it with her in there. I thought, uh-uh, no, we are not having any more of this horror movie shit, and I made myself wake up.

So I guess my question is, what do I make of this? Was something really poking my third eye, and if so, what and why? Should I just write it off as a meaningless wierd dream?

Dream Themes Take Scary Turn

September 1, 2009

Okay so the last time I wrote I’d had successive nights dreaming of life as a prisoner in school. Right after that, I had three successive nights dreaming of moving.

In the first two I was in that stage of moving where all the big furniture is gone, but drawers full of socks and other small items still have to be packed up and taken out.  In the first of these dreams, my whole neighborhood was also having to move, businesses and householders alike. In fact my friend’s Star Trek fan club was having to abandon its life-size replica of the latest movie’s Enterprise bridge, which was incredibly cool and I thought it was a shame. In these moving dreams all my stuff was going into storage, and there was no indication of where I would be living next.

But last night, oh horrors. I dreamed I was moving into my parent’s house. The one I left at 17 because it was such a nightmare being there. The one I still get tense about having to visit. I do not like the turn my subconscious life has taken.

In hypnogogic imagery just before sleep over the past two or three nights, I’ve seen the same white-faced and hollow-socketed ghoul with jet black hair. Though it didn’t look at me I had the sense that it has to do with my family’s generational karma somehow.

School/Work Dream Themes

August 19, 2009

Stressful dreams lately. On Monday night, the setting and situation for the  dream was much like  scene from a couple of days before, when I had a job interview for a chair massage gig. The person interviewing me demonstrated some deep tissue moves while I sat in the massage chair.  First, I sat backwards on the massage chair, and she said “Let’s flip your cancer over,” indicating that I should turn around.  Then she pressed my bladder 20 points, those meaty bumps above the base of the neck, and while I was saying “I hope that doesn’t mean I’m –” I was going to say “going to get cancer” but she cut me off and said “Did so and so like school?” The question mark stands for a word that starts with C, which I don’t remember now. At this moment I realized that the dream was being used to get me to confront or look at something about myself. I was afraid of this and at the same time the question elicited profound, blowout rage. I shouted and wind blew like an explosion and the scene disappeard. I thought, I’m so pissed off I can’t hear anymore, and I believed it. Though I noticed that I actually could hear her saying “You can hear me, you can hear me.” The force of the emotional drama woke me up. I’ve dreamed about Bladder 20 points before, but I was working on someone else’s in that one. Come to think of it, that dream was about insecurity at work too.

Tuesday night, I had the recurring dream that I’m in school trying to earn enough credits to graduate. It feels like I’m serving a prison sentence, a very long one. Sometimes I’m in high school with these, sometimes college, sometimes graduate school. In this one I was in graduate school, but I don’t remember much else. Toward the end of these dreams it dawns on me that I’ve already got more degrees I could possibly ever need, and I start thinking about how maybe I can just walk out of the class and never come back.  I never make it to the point where I actually leave, though.

Last night I dreamed I was a shorter, dark-haired girl on her first day at her new job with the FBI. Why do I keep dreaming about the FBI? Generally I think of them as bad guys, but I guess TV characters like Special Agent Cooper and Mulder and Scully have made a big impression on me.

Anyway I was feeling very insecure at my new job. I was paralyzed by the dread that maybe I wasn’t capable enough to do it, so that made me less than a go-getter. To make things worse, my supervisors wouldn’t tell me where my desk was or what to do or how to do the job, because it was workplace policy to use sink or swim tactics to wash out the ones who weren’t good enough. 

The aftertaste these dreams have left in my head has made me anxious and gloomy all week. Rinpoche said that recurring dreams are very important, that they are trying to tell you something. In this case, what? I spent too much time in school? I get stressed out when I start new jobs? That hardly seems like news.

I always hit a wall in my meditation practice. Resentment about doing it, internal pouting and resistance while doing it. Then feeling guilty and bad about not doing it or not doing it well. The next thing I know, it’s been months since I’ve practiced.

So this weekend I’ve taken a break from my weekly habit of doing the entire Ngondro on Sunday, and yesterday I didn’t do my daily practice of admitting misdeeds and accumulating Hundred Syllable Mantra recitations. Instead I did Tsa Lung yesterday and Sound healing today. These are both about clearing chakras and changing negative states of mind, and right now they’re easier than the Ngondro practices. Hopefully they will ease some of the negativity I feel about Ngondro.

Tsa Lung and Sound Healing are the meditative exercises I started with this time around. To begin with, they seemed like a tedious pain in the ass, but now they seem like a birthday party compared to the Ngondro. I feel more immeidate benefits after doing them, too.

One of the Ngondro practices has helped me at work, however. I use an abbreviated Blue Medicine Buddha meditation while doing massage, but at times I’ve struggled to come up with enough compassion  to make it work. In the Boddhichitta section of the Ngondro, you think of someone you love. Then you think about how, in other lives, you’ve had the same kind of loving relationship with everybody else on the planet, even the folks you can’t stand. But bringing to mind that person you love helps you envision goodness and enlightenment coming to everybody alive now.

So when I’ve got somebody on the table, I imagine they’re a person I know and want to help. That makes it so much easier.

I get angry during sections of my Ngondro practice. There are nine different sections to it with about as many different chants to learn in English and Tibetan. The chanting’s supposed to go on at the same time as some vastly detailed visualizations and sometimes complicated mudras are involved. I am ashamed to admit it but sometimes I swear from frustration during my practice. One of the first three activities is kind of a confessional called “Admitting Misdeeds” where you work with a recent transgression, such as an angry outburst, and experience sincere remorse and desire not to do it again. Before I’ve finished the entire Ngondro I have inevitably racked up some more misdeeds.

Meditation practice does so much for me, but at the same time I resent and resist doing it.  A vat of  internal cranky stays on the boil while I’m engaged in or thinking about meditation, and the fumes pervade my internal atmosphere in a very distracting fashion. I stumble upon truly aware moments almost by accident, and then I get so excited about them I lose them in the excitement.

I’m happy I’ve stuck with my weekly practice of the entire Ngondro so far, but I want to experience it more deeply. I’m in such a hurry to get it over with, I don’t pause and abide after each section, which is causing me to miss a lot of the benefit. Because I fear I’m going to get fed up and quit before it’s over, I rush through.

Even though I’m not doing it well, it still feels like it’s working. Though I’m still quite short-fused, more of my emotional states are starting to feel separate from me and not as energetic. I’m having moments that feel like lucid dreaming. Here’s an example:

My friend’s daughter died last week. It’s been a long time coming, but it still caught me by surprise because I thought she at least had a few more weeks. I got home from work Friday and got the message. Immediately, my mind started to fidget. What do I do now? How do I feel?  For seconds at a time over the next few hours, I truly felt and understood the immediacy and truth of this loss as something raw and in real time, not confined to intellectual understanding and internal dialog.  I’ve also had brief windows where I truly get it that I’m going to die, that I’m already dead at some point in the future.

Last night I went out to eat with some old friends. In our 20s we took our lives together for granted, as well as the wild and exciting times we had. That stuff was so memorable and dramatic we never dreamed we’d forget it. Then they got married and left town, and we all lost touch. Recently we all made contact again and they got babysitters for the evening last night. We went out to eat.

They are still the same funny, enjoyable people, and seeing them again reminded me of how much I miss them. And it took all of us to piece together details from events in the past, and there were still gaping holes in those stories. We’ve forgotten so much. It made me sad. How could I have forgotten the times when we all used to stare at J.G.’s ass at work, and editorialize on its magical qualities? How could I have forgotten who FatHand Carl was? I was the one who almost dated him, but they were the ones who remembered him.

In a way I wish I’d been more aware at the time how valuable those days were, but at the same time if I had known I’d have already been sad about how they would one day end. Part of the fun was in being so casual about everything, and so sure that the good times would keep rolling. I guess at some level we knew that and tried not to get too hung up on it. Or we were just too distracted by thinking about things we didn’t have and how we were going to get those things.

Litha/Midsummer Ritual

June 22, 2009

We got up in the wee hours this morning to drive out to the boonies for this ritual. Since we live in the city, we have few options for nature spots where we can burn a fire in relative privacy. There’s a spot in woods on private property a while south of here, and it’s locally claimed to be haunted. I’ve tested the area by dowsing with L-rods and I believe it’s simply the location of a female vortex.

Earlier in the day I did Tsa Lung meditation to support the ritual. It seemed like an auspicious time – Midsummer lining up closely with the new moon. And on Sunday night, when we might be less likely to run into other visitors.

Like I said, this place is locally well-known. It’s said to be where the Devil goes to pace on sleepless nights. So one of the drawbacks when you go there is that you run a big risk of encountering drunken teens who go there for the thrill of getting scared. It’s happened to us before. When we got there this time, we found the remains of a recent fire – it smelled like somebody’d been there just a few hours before. There were many beer cans.

I chanted part of a Windhorse ritual in Tibetan, Quint did the same in English, and we burned a big pile of Rosemary and Thyme. I threw some old ritual masks I haven’t used in a long time onto the pile. It’s hard to get into a ritual when you’re worried about people sneaking up on you from the woods ( there are well-worn paths all around this place) or cops shining their headlights on you from the road. I wanted to include some chants to appease local nature spirits. God knows this place probably needs it because it sees some abuse from the partying teens. But I was in a rush to get it all over with and get the fire out and leave before any other people showed up, so the fire had to do as an offering. We splashed a cold Corona beer on it as it burned. Nature spirits might like that kind of thing.

Sure enough, the fire wasn’t quite out before a loud bunch of youngsters pulled up in a Mustang, got out, and started coming up the hill. The masks hadn’t burned all the way down yet and they looked really creepy with orange light shining through the eyeholes. It could make for an uncomfortable situation when they get here and see this, I thought, so I stamped the fire out before the strangers arrived. They were friendly enough when we passed them on our way out. But we’d been enjoying the sounds of whipporwhills, and when they got there a lot of loud talk and the occasional screech started going on.

Litha’s a time to work on prosperity. It’s the time of year when you celebrate all the hard work you’ve done and pause to look forward to all your work paying off.  It’s a tad depressing because it’s the longest day of the year and as someone who loves the sun and hates to see the day’s length go into decline, that doesn’t seem like a reason to celebrate. In just six months, it’ll be the winter solstice. That’s hard to believe.

Ngondro Works

June 15, 2009

I recently took up Ngondro meditation practice, and I think it’s working.  Ngondro is a set of meditation exercises designed to help you begin removing your head from your ass and become a more compassionate person. I was pretty discouraged early on, because I found out you have to do each of the 9 practices 100,000 times to complete a cycle. The way I see it, if I’m done in 10 years I’ll have worked at the limits of my capability for dilligence.

But now I’m encouraged. Here’s why: Last night I had a dream about a former arch-nemesis. We worked together several years ago, and as is the case with most of the people you come to hate vehemently, we started out as friends. She’s the kind of person who likes to play complicated games with people, and she eventually got around to doing it with me, and the aversion began.

Eventually she got a diagnosis that meant she might die soon, and she missed a lot of work. I was surprised to notice a complete lack of concern on my part. In fact, I started taking candy from the jar on her desk, knowing it would piss her off if she knew. Finally I realized that if this woman died, I would not care at all, that I would just finish all her candy and not have to worry about the repercussions. That bothered me.

Then she had surgery and her doctors discovered they’d made a mistake. Her health problem was not serious as it turned out. Soon she was back at work, and mad about her missing candy. Damn.

The day she returned, that bitch asked me if I’d been concerned about her welfare. When I said yes, we both knew I was lying, and I hated myself for being too scared to tell the truth. That ho had gotten the better of me again.

I knew enough about her to understand why she was such a mean, narcissistic freak. Intellectually, I did have compassion for her because it was so clear why she’d turned out the way she did. But I felt none in my heart. All I felt was fear that events might convene in such a way as to make me turn out the same way she did.

Anyway, last night I had a dream that the two of us were on a road trip together. I was pissed off and guarded about having to sit in a confined space with this person, but I found that her personality had softened and expanded somewhat. Though she didn’t apologize and I didn’t totally let my guard down, I did forgive her without saying so. I was stunned by what a relief it was to finally let that go.

So now I’m not as focused on the goal of doing 100,000 of each of nine meditation exercises, and I’m more excited about what might happen on the way.

Parasite Dream

June 13, 2009

While I was away at a recent Buddhist retreat I had really disgusting dream. I had it the first night I was there.

In the dream I looked down and my right forearm was a big glass cylinder. Heavy like that too. I had no idea what was going on, so I just looked at it. Inside the cylinder were rows of rectangular cells containing gray sprouts with eyes at the end – they looked like a single tiny goat eye, with a split pupil going sideways. They were looking at me. Aside from the eyes on the ends, they looked like the grayish sprouted seeds of an overripe tomato when you cut it open. Yuck. On top of each cell was a chamber holding a small while sphere.

A male somebody standing next to me, who I didn’t look up to see, said parasites must have moved into the blisters on my arm when I burned it. I have no idea what that was about.

This dream may have presaged the trouble I was getting ready to have with bugs in general on this trip. Later during the retreat I was told that dreams of bugs leaving your body are a good sign and it means the meditation is working, but I noted that the bugs in my dream were incubating in my arm and didn’t leave. Shivers.

I got schooled in some meditation routines that will now be taking up a larger chunk of my day, so I won’t have as much time to write. Sometimes I wonder if writing’s a such a good habit anyway, and maybe I should give it up for more productive pursuits. But I guess as far as habits go it’s better than many. Cheap, non-addicitive, and it’s mostly safe to drive after doing it.

Over the next few days after I did the Space Elemental Goddess meditation I mentioned last time, I sporadically noticed things I thought might be related to it, like warmth in a circle on my back behind my heart. (The space element is based in the heart). After that I did meditation for the Earth Elemental Goddess, and that just led to a greater general sense of happy.

I’ve been meaning to do a meditation for water, but I haven’t yet. As I’ve noted in the past, I have issues with water. Recently I dreamed of an incredibly deep stone-lined well will just a little water at the bottom, and I think it’s a reminder of my water issues.

One thing I did do recently was eat some psilocybin mushrooms and lie out in the rain with one foot dangling in a swimming pool. I thought this might be a more fundamental and less regimented method for calling in the element of water. It was warm enough so that the sprinkling rain wasn’t uncomfortable, and the outline of the sun showed behind the thin gray rain clouds. I wallowed in a flood of gratitute for having the opportunity to trip at all, and to be able to do it under such pleasant circumstances. I surfed waves of thankfulness, and I realized that gratitude is fun. I felt looooooved by the universe.

The backs of my eyelids were screens for a light show of moving fields of orange, red, yellow, and white with cephalapod-like outlines surging against them. I tried some yoga poses.  In plow pose, the imagery turned blue-black. In a headstand, my awareness shifted away from the colors and to the feel of the inside of my body. In child’s pose and on my back, the reds, oranges, and yellows were incredibly vivid.

At one point I got up because I heard my friend Clarice inside the house saying she felt sick. I went in and offered to work on foot reflex points to reduce nausea. She declined, but my husband said he’d appreciate some work. I said could only muster the focus if it was an emergency. She went into the bathroom and gagged for a while but got no payoff, and I went back into the yard.  Not long after that, the dog got up and barfed on Clarice’s husband, who was relaxing in a lounge chair.

Heart Space

May 19, 2009

This morning I did a meditation ritual for the elemental energy of space. According to Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche in Healing with Light, Energy, and Sound, the elemental goddess of space is one of five – the others are earth, water, air, and fire. This morning’s exercise, which I took from his book, is supposed to help me retrieve any space energies I’ve lost over my lifetime. The reason I chose to work with Space first is because I’m feeling encroached upon. Here’s why:

My meditation area and shrine are in the corner of our living room, which is pretty much an extension of the dining room and kitchen. It’s hard to meditate when somebody’s making breakfast or otherwise rattling around in the front part of our house. Since my husband’s work/school schedule has changed, he’s home more often and my available times for meditation practice have shrunk. When he’s home, during meditation I find myself on guard and trying to hurry before the next distraction. This is what destroys me most: The sound of his spoon ringing on the inside of his coffee cup after he pours cream in it. I know coffee’s available at our house, I know I can have some whenever I want, but that sound yanks my attention around and incites immediate coffee lust that can’t be denied. I love having him around when I’m not meditating though, so I guess I can’t complain.

Also, major renovations are going on in the unit upstairs and workers arrive early in the morning to yuck it up and stomp in the stairwell and run sanders and saws right above my head.

I’ve managed to accept the EMS traffic going to and from the fire station and hospital down the street, which is outside the window by my shrine.

So there we go. I want to feel more spacious and free in my life, and since I can’t change my external circumstances I have to work with my internal ones. The element of space is based in the heart, so I’m interested to see how work with this element will change my emotional life.

Dream Ritual

May 11, 2009

Have had some interesting experiences with Dream Yoga, but it hasn’t unfolded like I expected. I’ve spent a couple of nights in a weird, jacked up state where I dreamed I was lying awake and then I woke up tired. A couple of nights I had more dreams of being chased by aliens. One of those qualified as a true nightmare. Metal cylons were hot on my trail and I was so scared I had no bricks to shit. Then it was like an unseen somebody prompted me to examine my fear, sense it like an internal structure. Suddenly I was outside the panic, studying its coral-like shape within my body, and the fear became a totally different experience. An interesting one, like studying a painting in a gallery. Now that was damn cool. I’ve tried to repeat the experience in waking life while watching stressful television.

Some nights when I think of Salge Du Dalma, the Dakini of Dream, I feel so enveloped by the nurturing prescence that it somehow evokes grief. Other nights it feels as if she’s pissed at and ignoring me.

And here lately I’ve lost my sense of rapport with Blue Medicine Buddha, which is frustrating.

Well I found this link to a ritual about the Dakini of Dream. I’m pretty sure it was generated outside Tibetan Buddhist orthodoxy but I plan to try it anyway. There’re a lot of other cool things on that site.

Good News, Bad News

May 9, 2009

Well, that retreat really provided a shot in the arm to my meditation practice. I’ve been more dilligent than I have in years, and I feel a lot better. Unfortunately, I fit the meditation into my day where I used to put the blogging. Don’t know exactly what I’m going to do about that.

More Synchronicity

April 22, 2009

So, I went to the Buddhist retreat I mentioned in my last post, the one which I felt the universe had sanctioned because some Jesus-obsessed cousins of mine sent me a bar of decorative soap with a Buddhist symbol on it.

I’m still reeling from the trip, and I’ve already noticed some subtle glimmers of improvement in my state of mindfulness.

Rainbows figure prominently in the symbolism of this religious group. On the final day of the retreat, I skipped a morning exercise class to pack up my camp site and sit outside the dining hall with a cup of coffee. The view faced east, and a sundog gleamed on a cloud some distance from the bright sun.  It looked like a section of rainbow. Woah, I thought. That’s a pretty big example of synchronicity.

Prior to the retreat I got involved in a lengthy e-mail bitch session about how I can’t stand other women. Ironically the other party in this dialog was a female friend from high school. Anyway, I’ve always been wary of women, who I’ve often experienced as shifty and untrustworthy and dangerous and unpredictable and crazy and downright mean. I believe these feelings may stem from my relationship with my mother, who also had a difficult relationship with her mother.

OK so at this retreat it came to my attention that my Mojo (as I’ll call it for back of a better term) is based in the element of water. Water represents femininity, comfort, intuitive processes. Yet water makes me uneasy – I’ll always prefer the mountains over the beach, and I never learned to swim well. I shun comfort, as it is for sissies. I have nightmares about tidal waves and flash floods. On some fundamental level, I am repelled by the element that is supposed to sustain me.

This made me reflect upon my professional past, which I can compare to trying to canoe down a rocky river during a drought. While I have had some moments of brilliant luck, I have had to get out and drag the boat most of the time. On  many occasions I have wondered at my lack of ability to be in the right place at the right time.

About a year ago somebody did a Results System assessment on me. The protocol led her to find a verse in the Bible that most applied to me and my situation. She picked the one in Genesis about “And on the second day God separated the waters of the heavens from the waters of the earth.” I never figured out exactly what to take from that, but those first few verses in Genesis are the only parts of the Bible I like.

So I guess in the short term I’ll work on my relationship with my mojo element, and I’ll be doing these new meditation practices. I’m excited about having my practice rejuvenated.

I guess I come from a family of religious fanatics/freaks. My first cousin has quit her job and is “running a ministry out of my house,” as she put it. Having bailed out of the Jesus cult in my childhood, I’m not familiar enough with the lingo to know exactly what that means, so I had to ask. Based on what she said I think it means she’s preaching Christian services in her living room and has a small congregation. I want to go to one but haven’t had the time yet.

My sister-in-law is a Presbyterian assistant minister or preacher or whatever they call their church leaders. My brother was president of the Baptist student union where he went to college. They’re pretty normal.

My uncle is mad at God and not attending church now, but when he did he went to the kind where people fall out and speak in tongues. In 1972 the Spirit moved him to burn his LP record collection, which included everything the Supremes had recorded up to that point. He bought it all back later. (I think record burnings were orchestrated by the record industry. Churches just fronted the operation and got kickbacks, and record companies made countless millions from the folks who burned their records and bought them back later). This uncle also idolized Jim and Tammy Fay Bakker, and had many good times with church buddies at Heritage USA. I used to give him a lot of shit about that – before the scandal hit. I was really smug about being right afterwards too. 

Okay now I’m meandering to the point. My Mom’s two first cousins are homeless street preachers who can’t wait for the Rapture to arrive. Now they wear identical outfits and call themselves “Cheerleaders for Jesus.” But when I was a child, they were teenagers and I thought they epitomized cool: They had lip gloss and Queen’s News Of The World record, and one of them worked at an ice cream stand on the beach. They lived with their mom, and I’m not sure what made them go round the bend and become their own three-woman cult, but I’m sure something did. My Dad assures me the potential for it was always there because their mom had always entertained extremist religious notions, but I have the feeling something happened to drive them all to the land of zealotry. After their mom died it got worse. They got kicked out of their apartment for non-payment of rent. In court they explained to the judge God told them they don’t have to pay rent, and they only follow God’s laws. They are hungry for the Rapture; can’t wait for it to get here.

I could tell all kinds of stories about how unusual things became with them, but I’ll just finish telling this one. One day I was reading Daniel Pinchbeck’s 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl. It was really giving me the creeps, partly because it’s about different people’s ideas of how and when the world will end (soon). At the same time, I was sitting in Intensive Care waiting for hospital staff to wheel my sick grandmother back down from the X-Ray department. It was looking like she might die soon. This is the grandmother I’m pretty sure contributed to my childhood paranoia that I might be the Antichrist, or at least bound for eternity in Hell. Anyway I was getting creeped out thinking about 2012 issues. A chill went down my spine, and I reacted by turning on some cynicism about how it’s probably all bullshit. Before I could finish the thought a phone started ringing. I jumped, looked around the room. No phone. The ringing kept on and I kept looking, finally located the phone jack and followed the cord, then found the phone inside a drawer. The cord was wrapped around it many times so the receiver was bound to it. I frantically unwrapped the cord, sure the whole time whoever was calling would give up before I’d make it. But when I got the receiver free and said hello, I was speaking to one of the Rapture sisters, and I hadn’t spoken with either of them in about 20 years. The feeling of “Oh shit, synchronicity!” made another big chill go down my spine.

So today I had another “Oh shit, synchronicity!” moment involving them. Every now and then they send me cards or small gifts in the mail. It makes me feel awful because I never do that for them, and they’re the ones who are living in a car. But I’m afraid of what would happen if they knew I don’t belong to the Jesus cult. They’ll sic the Saviour on my ass and I’ll wind up tractor-beamed into the land of the Born Again by the force of their prayers. Anyway: I’ve done Buddhism along with Paganism for years. I struggle to maintain a daily meditation practice, but lately I’ve been doing better with it. A couple of weeks ago, the Rapture Sisters sent me a piece of bright yellow soap with a pink flowery bow on it. Kind of tacky, really. It sat on my desk with a bunch of other junk since then, but earlier I was on the phone with my brother and looking for something to fidget with, and chose that. I found that under the tacky pink bow, an Endless Knot is stamped into the surface of the soap. This is one of the Eight Auspicious Symbols of Tibetan Buddhism. I’m sure they’re not hip to what the symbol represents, and I’m pretty sure they never saw it in the first place thanks to that bow, but I still appreciate it.

I’ve signed up for a Buddhist retreat to take place soon, but have had some reservations about it for a number of reasons. But I feel better about it now.

A client told me this story a couple of weeks ago:

 

She recently talked to her brother, who lives in town, and the brother mentioned that he believes their dead father assists him with finding good parking spots. She thought that was weird, but then a week and a half later she talked to her daughter, who lives several hours away and who told her exactly the same thing. The brother and the daughter have no idea the dead father/grandfather is performing this parking spot saving service for anybody else – they came up with this theory independently of each other. And they’ve been getting parking help from the dead man for many years now, but only recently mentioned it to my client. Now that is really weird.

 

So this client of mine sprained her ankle not long after these conversations, and she started thinking of her father when she needed to find favorable parking spaces to save her a long walk. At first it didn’t seem to help, but after a few tries she began to notice a difference.

I keep thinking I need to cultivate a relationship with a guardian angel but somehow I never get around to it. One thing that keeps coming up for me in tarot card/rune readings and sessions with psychics is that I fail to listen to my intuition. One time somebody did Results System on me and said I’m cut off from connection with God. Well that sucks and I don’t know what to do about it. As an ENTP, I have a fairly well developed sense of intuition but I guess my head keeps getting in the way.

Hmm I bet the fonts in this entry are going to be screwed up too, like so many others are, but alas once again I’m feeling too lazy to figure out why and try to fix it.

Anger Sound Healing

April 2, 2009

Found the guy who wrote Tibetan Yogas Of Dream And Sleep on YouTube. Though there’s nothing of his on YouTube about dream work, there is some stuff about sound healing that looks to be pretty good. There are sounds you make that go with specific chakras, and they’re designed to assist with helping one keep one’s head out of one’s ass. Here’s the intro:

I tried this first exercise this morning and I think it helps. It’s about working with anger, which is the primary negative emotion I dance with. I probably need to work with this one for a while before I move on to the others.

Not much doing on the dream front here. Although I’ve been annoyed with an old friend for a while because she doesn’t return e-mails or facebook prods, and one night earlier this week I dreamed about her. She sent me a message on facebook the next day (though not out of the blue – I’d sent her one a few days before).

Realization

March 28, 2009

I’ve had some realizations lately about the Deva of this city, who was the focus of our Imbolc ritual. So I guess that ritual has borne some fruit. Here goes:

I’ve driven a lot of miles and spend a lot of money in pursuit of religious study and experience. Over the years I’ve come back from these experiences and thought, Hey, I can start something like that here at home. But those attempts have crashed and burned due to lack of social support. Now I’m discouraged. I’m taking it personally. Deep down, I feel like my town is holding out on me. Or trying to drive me away.

 

Yesterday I was talking with a client about how this town is right on the cusp of coolness, has flirted with it for years, but can’t seem to make it over the edge. He agreed. And this morning I related the same sentiment to a co-worker, who explained why that is. “This town can’t make up its mind what it wants to be,” he said. “It can’t decide if it wants to be Asheville or Atlanta.” 

Well that makes total sense. The hippie-dippy holistic tendencies are here, but there’s too much redneck populism in this town for it to make a transition to an Asheville, NC or a Floyd, VA type community. But there’s enough alternative identity here to keep us from embracing the path of total Southern big-dollar conventionality. Although Asheville is now too expensive for most folks, and I hear it has become a transplanting ground for former Atlantites looking to get more bang for their real estate buck.

 

When I think about it, I have to admit that this city’s inability to get off the fence pretty much mirrors my inability to commit to either world. I’ve always wanted to be a freak who can pass in the mainstream, and I’m suspicious and distrustful of others in the fringe class. At the same time, I get frustrated with people who have no freaky leanings at all. There seems to be no place for hybrids like myself. 

I guess people live in the cities they deserve.

 

 

 

Ostara Windhorse Ritual

March 23, 2009

Had planned to get together with a few other folks yesterday to do an Ostara observance outside, maybe a continuation of what we did last time, but what with work/childcare conflicts nobody but me was able to make it.

So I planted some Kale and Dianthus plants to celebrate, then did the Four Directions ritual from Sarangarel’s Riding Windhorses in my dining room. Generally I don’t like to do scripted, read-from-a-book rituals, but I’ve been pressed for time myself lately and it really came in handy.

During the ritual I set an intention to lucid dream, and I sat and looked at the backs of my hands. This Castaneda method has worked for me before.

A few days ago I realized I’ve come to some conclusions about the issues I wanted help with in the the Imbolc ritual, so maybe it has born fruit. I have been thinking and writing a lot in longhand, but my husband’s laptop died and he’s been using this one, which means I haven’t been. So more analysis and postings will have to wait until his laptop gets back from the shop.

Holy Atheism

March 12, 2009

Sometimes atheists are a real pain in the ass. These pain in the ass ones are generally the kind who profess atheism because they’re bitter. I’ve noticed there are a lot of sour former Catholic atheists, who aren’t really atheists because they’re just trying to get back at the god they used to worship. I went through a spell like that in middle school, but I was Baptist. It sucks when you don’t realize you have other options, when you think your only choices are to believe in a capricious bully God or no God at all.

 

One time I met a truly inspirational atheist. Colin’s atheism inspired a profound sense of wonder and gratitude in him because he felt really lucky to exist in the first place, given the random and meaningless nature of the universe as he saw it. He believed the fact that he not only existed, but did so at the top of the food chain, was the result of some unbelievably fortunate accidents.

 

Colin was telling me about a friend of his who’d recently come to the conclusion that there was no God. This friend became depressed because it seemed very unglamorous to him that human beings were essentially walking mud in a universe without meaning.

 

“You’re fucking kidding me,” Colin said to him. “Sure you’re just mud, but for fuck’s sake, you’re mud that got to sit up and look around. You should appreciate that.”

 

Think about that. And, if you’re reading this, you’re not only special in that you have a nervous system and are conscious. Your circumstances were kind enough to allow you to gain enough education to learn to read. In fact, you can read one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, so there’s plenty for you to read and plenty of people who can understand you if you speak or write.

 

And if you live in this day and age, you’ve never known smallpox or the black plague. And most likely, nobody owns you as property in the classical sense. If you believe in God, all of this might seem to natural because it must be God’s plan for you. But if you don’t, the mind struggles in vain to process how lucky you are. Wonder is everywhere. Savor every moment!

Experiments In Dreaming

March 10, 2009

I recently purchased a mixture of herbs designed to heighten one’s dreaming ability. This mixture is brewed into a bitter, nasty-ass tea, which I let steep for four hours, and you’re supposed to roll a cigarette out of the same mixture. Then at bedtime you drink and smoke it.

 

The first time I tried this I didn’t do the smoking part because I didn’t think I had any rolling papers. The next morning I had some vague impressions of dreams and a sense I’d slept hard, but not much else. A couple of days later I was trying to get some tax stuff together and found an old, yellowed pack of 1.25 rolling papers in the bottom of a filing cabinet. The glue on the edge didn’t work anymore, and I’m way out of practice, but with the help of a lot of spit I managed to roll a functional cigarette of the dreaming herb mixture. I tried again last night after smoking about half of it.

 

In the wee hours I came to with a snap, awakened by a panicked sense of falling. Once again, I had the impression I’d been doing some heavy duty dreaming but couldn’t remember anything.

 

Wolf woman said that sense of falling happens when you come back into your body after journeying out of it.

 

Lucid dreams make me feel good for days. They renew you by putting you in a place where you feel like everything around you is alive, and that you’re humming with delicious energy. I’ve never been able to maintain the lucidity for more than a few moments, though. Even though I’ve worked on it in fits and starts, I haven’t been able to do it reliably. This may be because I’m afraid to. I hate that feeling I get right after I realized I’m lucid. I can’t think of what to do next, and get anxious about it, and the anxiety starts banishing the lucidity, and I feel like a loser.

I’d like to observe Ostara on the 22nd of this month.  Jyothi wants to make the observance part of a house blessing for her new place, provided she and her fellah close on it by then. That sounds reasonable to me. We did that for our friend Rajneesh at Mabon one time. (Interestingly enough, Mabon is Ostara’s counterpart in the dark half of the year. Day and night are equal at these points on the calendar). I made a person-shaped cake out of stacked graham crackers and frosting made from confectioner’s sugar and lots of REAL BUTTER. The idea at Mabon is to create a symbol of something you’ve sown during the year that that you can reap. Lots of times at Mabon rituals there will be a John Barleycorn cake made of cornbread that’s kind of like a big gingerbread man, and the participants cannibalize it. I guess back in the days of original pagans they used grain they’d grown in their fields to bake the John Barley Corn effigy, and eating it was part of a ritual of rewarding themselves for their hard work.

 

My John Graham CrackerMan was mighty tasty. I went back by Rajneesh’s place the next day to help him move boxes, and I looked in the fridge while I was there. There were deep finger gouge marks in what remained of the John Graham CrackerMan because Rajneesh had gotten hungry again after we left and couldn’t find where he’d packed away the silverware, so he’d gotten down like a caveman on the leftovers.

 

Back to Ostara. This holiday follows Imbolc, which is about planting the seeds of new projects, ideas, or goals. So the theme of Eostar is about sprouting, birthing, and breakthroughs. I sure as Hell need some breakthrough action right about now. I’m just about sick with envy about Jyothi’s breakthrough of buying this house with its sweetass yard in one of the coolest neighborhoods in town. But since I’m not exactly sure I’m supposed to stay in this city, I won’t be too bitter.

 

I’ve been doing some research about Gnostic ritual, too.  I’ve not found much out there on it, but here are three things I’ve located that I want to try.

 

Here’s a link to info about Gnostic services.

 

Here’s a link to a good ritual opening exercise.

 

And here’s a link to a good self-analysis exercise.

 

Of course since Gnosticism was oppressed, it’s probably impossible to know exactly how it was done back in the day, and how it was done probably varied a lot from sect to sect. On the other hand I don’t think it was as prescriptive as conventional Christianity today. Regardless, since we don’t know the right way to do it, we can do it the way that works best for us. Discovering, swiping useful methods from various traditions and making it up as I go along is fine with me.

 

I’ve read a lot about entheogens (buzz-producing substances) and how they figured prominently in Gnostic religious experience, so I’ve also ordered some stuff called Blue Lotus that’s supposed to offer a legal high. I’m skeptical – if it’s legal then surely it doesn’t work. But I’m too old to have real drug connections any more and don’t want to risk the legal hassles. Blue Lotus will have to do.

 

I guess I’ll primarily be experimenting with this by myself, but I’m scouting around for other people to involve.

Buzz Starved

March 2, 2009

I do some automatic writing from time to time, and frequently the scrawled messages tell me I need to open my head or open my heart. These messages never give me guidance about how to do that. But the other day I was reading Terrence McKenna’s Food of the Gods and in writing about ayahuasca or something like it, he said the natives who employ the drug report that you have to take a big dose the first time to “open the head,” and thereafter you can trip on a small dose.

 

Could that be what they mean? In fact, a friend of mine has said she wants to go to South America to do an 11-day ayahuasca tour this summer, and sure, I’d go if I had the money.

 

It’s probably been 15 years or more since I’ve done mushrooms, but they’re my drug of choice. In fact, they’re the only drug I’m not sure I’m sick of, if you exclude coffee and chocolate.  Over the course of my partying career, beginning in my late teens and ending sometime roughly in my early 30s, something changed metabolically in me and I can’t get enjoyably high anymore. Alcohol doesn’t give me the sense of invincibility and well-being it used to, and the brutal hangover that sets in before the buzz has even worn off is not worth it. Pot makes me grumpy, tired, and paranoid. I don’t run across LSD anymore and it’s too risky anyway because there’s no way to assess the quality of what you’re getting until it’s too late.

 

There’s also a necessary social component to getting high, and that’s gone. All my partying buddies are far-flung and I’m not sure we’d still have the same fun, giggly chemistry.

 

It’d be nice to do heavy hallucinogens in a reverent religious ceremony outside somewhere, and not in a dingy apartment with a lot of silliness or at a public gathering with a lot of potential for uncomfortable situations.

 

McKenna’s point in this book is that the world population is buzz-starved, sick of living in a universe with the ego at the center, and the only legal ways to get a buzz tend to make people assholes by inflating the ego (alcohol). Maybe he’s right.

I hadn’t been to church in a long time when my grandfather died. I hadn’t been to a funeral in a long time either. I was surprised to see it was pretty much like a church service, one where the preacher takes advantage of the dead body in the room to scare everybody with the reminder that unless they’ve been saved, they’re going to hell when death arrives for them.

 

During the funeral, I glanced around the sanctuary. It looked like at least two-thirds of the audience was upwards of 60 years old. In fact, most of them were members of the church we were sitting in, and had probably been hearing all their lives about the dangers of not getting saved. Why don’t initiates in the Jesus cult ever get past the point of having to be cajoled with such heavy-handed tactics?  Does a room full of saved old folks still have to be threatened? Supposedly you only have to get saved once, so I wondered who this message was for. I entertained the idea the whole sermon might be targeting me and my Dad, who is also not saved, but decided that was just paranoid. I believe preachers do think they have to haul out the “damned for all eternity” stuff at every opportunity in order to keep the flock in line.

 

I’ve got a client who’s been a believer all his life. Carries on talking about The Lord for almost the whole time when he gets a massage. And it’s really offensive stuff, too, from my perspective. All about how it’s so clear that a totally literal interpretation of the Bible is the only reasonable way to read it. He’s always complaining about how he can’t meet any women, too, so I told him to go to a yoga class. He said he can’t do that because Yoga is associated with Hinduism, a heathen faith. I told him there’s not any Hindu stuff in the average yoga class, and he says he still takes offense to it because it is based in Hinduism. He’s got high standards, that one.

 

Every time, he comes in telling me another story about how he’s argued another non-believer into a logic-based corner about how their religion doesn’t make sense. It’s amazing some Muslim hasn’t kicked his ass yet. Or that he hasn’t been fired for that kind of shit.

 

Amazingly enough I still like this guy. He’s fun to talk to despite the zealotry, so I charge him the discount rate even though he doesn’t really qualify for it. I find it hard to believe he can’t find anybody to date.

 

But the last time I worked on him he was talking all that stuff and suddenly I had an epiphany: This motherfucker is whistling in the dark. He’s carrying on about the Bible so much because, deep down, he has doubts and those doubts terrify him. He preaches because he’s insecure in his faith. All this talk is really to convince himself.

How do you do Gnosticism?

February 27, 2009

I’ve read some books in the past few weeks that have blown my head apart, and I’m having trouble processing this new information to the point where I can write about it. It’s given me mental constipation. Sure I have pages of partially synthesized material about what I’ve learned, but it’s hard to piece it together into the whole I’m looking for. So here comes a big mess.

 

I’ve always been interested in religion and mythology. At first this interest came about because I feared that God was going to kill me and send me hell, or that I would discover myself to be the offspring of the devil and somehow responsible for countless others winding up in Hell.  Then after I encountered Classical mythology in third or fourth grade I got interested in that. I could not get my head around what it would be like to participate in religion like the pagan Greeks and Romans did. Up until recently I wondered why there’s not more information about how pagan worship was conducted.

 

And I had questions about my own religious tradition, like: How do you pray? But I never asked that one because it might tip somebody off that I was evil. To this day I can’t believe people spend so much time in church being exhorted to pray, but there’s no instruction about how to do it.

 

I guess that’s why I took to Buddhism so, because it’s specific. Chant these syllables, visualize this, sit this way and breathe like so. Gotcha.

 

And I really liked Paganism a lot because it’s about participation in religious rite, not just passively sitting, listening, and following rules.

 

But last week I discovered that maybe I can have it all. Hell yeah! Gnostic Christian tradition is very Pagan-flavored! I can still do Buddhist practices! And it addresses the issue of Castaneda’s Mud Shadows and Tolle’s Painbody! It makes sense! And certain schools of Gnostic thought support ecstatic experience! Hmmm, but there’s still not much information about how to it, or much in the way of Gnostic churches to join around here.

 

More later.

Sophia Realization

February 23, 2009

Have been reading John Lamb Lash’s Not In His Image, and it’s reminded me of a dream I had when I was 18 or 19.

 

In the book Lash talks about the Gnostic, Pagan traditions which he says pre-dated Christianity. These traditions celebrated physical existence and taught that the Earth was holy, and through communion with nature and transpersonal experience people could experience personal and spiritual growth. He compares this with the “off-planet landlord” paradigm of the monotheist religions, which preached that we’re all a total bunch of assholes who need to be “saved,” and we’d better start brown nosing now. This monotheist favor-currying usually consists of suffering, which is holy in that system, or of cruelty to non-believers because they don’t count as worthy of existence.

 

I was raised Southern Baptist, and though I always chafed within the narrow confines of that concept of spirituality, it was all I knew.  So I made assumptions about the earth being a nice place and home and all, but still the unholy container of hell. To experience one’s higher destiny one needed to connect with lofty regions of the sky, where angels and residents of Heaven dwell.

 

So one afternoon my freshman year of college I was napping in my dorm room. Normally in dreams I just see visual settings in my head and there’s a story line. It’s just something I watch, even though I might at the time think it’s really happening to me. But this was one of those dreams where you feel like your entire body is really somewhere else. I was standing in a ruin, like a Greek or Roman amphitheater. It was dark like just before a thunderstorm hits, and everything was deadly still and silent, like a movie on freeze-frame. At the same time, I felt the setting was primed and full of energy waiting to burst loose. From my right a huge piece of broken statuary rose up from outside the ruin and levitated in front of me. It was the chin and mouth from a face that must have been the size of a two-story house.

 

It spoke to me. The voice was big and masculine but calm, soothing and it almost had a velvety texture. It was also like I heard the voice inside my head and not in the air around me.

 

I guess we had an exchange, but this was many years ago and I can’t remember exactly what was said. Somehow it became understood that I was seeking spiritual knowledge. Next I found myself pulling Gs as I rocketed up through the sky. It was thrilling; I felt my spiritual quest was about to be fulfilled. But once in space what I saw was very unimpressive. The sun was a bare lightbulb and there was absolutely nothing of interest going on up there.

 

The voice said, “I’d like to show you a new way to get to Heaven,” and I was looking down at the brilliant blue and white surface of the earth. I began  to descend and panicked. Partly it was because I could hear the sound of my descent, like the noise of Wile E. Coyote falling in the Road Runner cartoons. Descent is inherently more scary than ascent because it’s essentially falling. But in this case I was mostly just afraid I was next going to be shown Hell, that I’d be trapped there, that it was all a cruel joke engineered by minions of Satan.

 

I struggled against the Gs in total panic and willed myself to wake up. I did, with a start. I had to look around the room and get up and walk around to reassure myself it was over. This dream bothered me for a long time.

 

So in Lash’s book, he says the Gnostic Pagans took spiritual instruction directly from the Earth itself, an energy they called Sophia. The monotheists destroyed forests of Pagan writings so there’s not much detail about how they achieved the states where they communed with the soul of the Earth, other than it appeared to them as a special kind of white light. I think I may have seen this white light in other dreams.

 

Now when I remember this dream it occurs to me that it might not have been about Satan trying to get me involved in a Hell tourism package. It might have been a communiqué from the world of Sophia religion.

Mud Shadow Research?

February 17, 2009

Saw this the other day and it made me think of mud shadows/painbodies and wonder if they could be examples of the kind of life it’s talking about.

Life As An ENTP

February 12, 2009

At certain points in the past I’ve gotten the notion that there was no real place for me in the conventional world, realized that I’d never be able to successfully pass as a mainstream person. And I muscle tested to ask whether or not I should accept that and get a job in a bookstore or new age store and quit trying to pass. The response was no. And now more than a decade later that doesn’t make sense to me. I was right – I was never able to fit in and truly succeed in mainstream work settings. It was painful and difficult and not terribly rewarding in any sense, and now I’m middle aged and still paying off school loans for a degree I don’t use, and not making enough money, because I’m starting over AGAIN in a new career.

 

In my mid-20s I took a career change seminar and we did some personality tests as part of it. Mine predicted, with chilling accuracy, how my work life would unfold. It said I’d burn out quickly in jobs without a high novelty factor and where routine and ability to dot Is and cross Ts was highly valued. I thought, “Where the hell can you find a job that doesn’t require high tolerance for tedium? I’m smart enough to learn any system so I can get a paycheck.” But I wasn’t. I was like Pepe Le Pew – charming and average enough to pass on the surface in most cases, but soon people usually began to suspect I was not what I appeared. One thing I’ve learned about work: When you don’t fit in to a defined social group, you eventually will make a handy target for somebody, and you will have no allies. Especially when you are female and you work with a bunch of other females.

 

I can’t really pass in total freak settings either. Though I’m definitely too unconventional to pass in mainstream society, I’m too square to be a true hippie, not flaky enough to be a true pagan, swear too much and get too cranky to fit in with the Buddhists or Yoga teachers. That really just pisses everybody off when you can’t conform to any social group or stereotype.

 

I don’t want to get lumped in with a stereotypical bunch of freaks. Deep down I am a snob. When I’m in a pissy mood I feel superior to those who conform to stereotypes. But now I realize I am a freak, and here’s why: Back when I was single I did a tour of duty on Match.com. I signed up for the personality matching service. Week after week, based on my personality profile, I was sent photos and bios of some of the biggest, most pretentious freaks I’ve ever seen – one or two I was already acquainted with. I noted that a certain indivdual neglected to mention his criminal record. At first I thought, these guys all suck. They think they’re so cool, but they’re obviously total pains in the ass. Finally I realized: This Is Who I Am. I belong on this page with these people.

 

I guess if I were more mature or spiritually advanced I wouldn’t be disappointed in the world I’ve found myself in; I wouldn’t feel cheated that I worked hard in school only to find that there are no jobs and no places in this culture where I can feel I belong. I assumed the isolation I felt growing up would end once I was able to leave home, and while things certainly improved, I still feel like I haven’t found home.

Goddess Trance Part 1

February 10, 2009

Don’t know why but the imagery in my trances tends to be scary and dark.

 

The goddess, about nine feet tall and muscled like an athlete, met me at the sandy circle in the woods. She pointed to something on the perimeter of the circle. Maybe it was an illusion, maybe it was solid. It looked like an old fashioned safe door. She didn’t say anything but her expression let me know this was important.

 

There’s not a combination dial I can see. Exasperation, confusion, what do I do next?

 

Say you came in at 12 o’clock on the circle. The safe door is at 1 or 2 o’clock. It’s twilight. The goddess smiles and goes to work unlocking the safe. Bright light, noon or moon, glitters on the dial. When the door swings open she goes in on her hands and knees, not all the way, and starts pulling out two thick cables. She sits and leans forward, her head and face now covered by a black helmet. The top of her torso is now covered in black. I think this change now restricts her and her breathing. She’s turning into a machine.

 

It’s very seductive, this idea of feeling protected by a machine shell, languishing protected in cool darkness and mysterious. Somehow it sees itself as lovable because it’s helpless and immobilized. This reminds me of my grandmother, of the darkness that infected her and spread to my mother and me.

 

Now I’ve taken the goddess’ place and she’s gone. My left arm and my torso from the bottom of my rib cage and angling up to below my right armpit, and my head, it’s all sacrificed, given up to the pathetic dark machine monster. I’m struggling to sit upright. My left side is heavier than the right. It’s sad I have no feeling and it’s hard to breathe. I want people to feel sorry for me because I have no feelings, because I was willing to be altered like this. I salve my wounds with self-pity because no one cares and I knew they wouldn’t. I feel like a bug on its back.

 

Would the world be different if I could go back to being human? Can I? I can see the sky and branches and leaves through the dark tint on my helmet’s visor. I know there’s a mixture of fine sand and clayey dirt underneath me, because I can feel it with my right hand. It’s dried into a crust on top and it’s damp and cool underneath. I am at war. This is so uncomfortable. Maybe I should ask for help, though I don’t want to.

 

My voice is small and feeble and I don’t think it gets past the mask. I wanted to be strong and inviolable. It’s hard to think of losing my dead arm, my machine arm.

 

I feel sand under my feet, too. The sun is shining. I am sad that I am stuck this way, a tragic figure. But I don’t want to be a tragic figure. When they say that we should strive to be like Jesus, that wasn’t supposed mean we should gracefully suffer fatal misfortune as if suffering itself makes one holy.

 

I reject the idea that exclusion is noble

That self-pity is the noblest form of comfort

 

Help will come from the bottom of the circle, where even now a cool damp breeze stirs, the first breath of a thunderstorm. It’s obvious when it rains, the water flows out that way too.  I am in a holy place. I have asked for help. I want to be free like the goddess, alive.

 

To my grandmother: I mourn the free girl caged within you and that I never knew her. I give back your ideals of self-pity and exclusion. These things do not make me or you superior to everyone else. These things are not what made Jesus powerful either.

I am sitting up, feeling stronger. I feel that my spine connects to the earth like a root. It is dark and cloudy. I am tense and waiting. Is it possible to get my old self back? Is it possible to give up my dead parts?

Dream Within Dream

February 6, 2009

I was inside a dark single-wide mobile home, standing in the doorway to the living room and looking through a window over the kitchen sink. There was streetlight coming through the blinds there, then there was a bright flash. At the same time a strong wind started up. It rocked the mobile home on its foundations and I braced myself. The structure tipped and I began reciting the Medicine Buddha chant in my head to keep calm. The mobile home started rolling, and falling apart as it did so, objects on the inside tumbling like clothes in a dryer. I rolled with it and remained unhurt. Finally the structure was too wrecked to roll anymore, and I began crawling out of the wreckage. It was raining.

 

I was startled when I put my hand on what felt like somebody’s leg in the wet darkness. I was even more startled a second later when I found myself in a dry, well-lit room the size of a gym. About fifty or sixty people were lying in ordered rows on yoga mats. Except for me. I was off my mat and holding my neighbor’s leg. I hissed desperate whispers at her, questions about where I was and what was going on. Instructors were circling the room inspecting everybody and I didn’t want to be seen.

 

Then I woke up here, in my home. This was definitely a dream within a dream. The shift from the wrecked mobile home to the gym felt like waking up.

We couldn’t have had better conditions for our outdoor Imbolc ritual. We started around 4:30 pm under clear skies and finished just as the sinking sun let the cold encroach. Our mission was to release some emotional baggage about the loss of some social ties we’ve all had but now miss in this city, and to contact the Deva of the city to see if it had any guidance for us. I guess mainly I just wanted to see if there is such a thing and see what it was like.

 

I dried a huge bundle of rosemary branches for this occasion, and we used some of them to mark out a big pentacle in Jyothi’s back yard. After we called in the directions, made our invocations, and cast the circle, we walked it in meditative silence. We cast our regrets and individual grief into the center as we walked. I really enjoyed this. The tiny leaves fell off the rosemary branches as we walked, so it was like the pentacle was dissolving beneath us. Three was the perfect the number to walk it all at once – we moved around the pentacle in a kind of synchrony.

 

We made a pile of rosemary branches in the middle of the pentacle, wrote letters the city Deva, and put them in the pile.

 

Next came the Spirit Boat part of the ceremony. It’s sort of an active imagination exercise. We all sat on a blanket – Jyothi and I shoulder to shoulder, with Wolf Woman’s back against ours. She beat a steady rhythm on a drum, and told us to imagine being in a favorite place outside, and then to find an opening into the underworld, where we would row our imaginary canoe in a journey to find the Deva.

 

I accessed the underworld in a manner similar to that of Freydis in William Vollman’s The Ice Shirt. I went through a rotten hole in a tree and squeezed down through damp and slimy decay. I was really beginning to wonder why I’d made this so unpleasant for myself, then I felt open space ahead, and came out into a dark underground tunnel. Cold air pressed down from overhead.

 

I got into the canoe and started rowing. It was a long time before I saw anything, and that was just flashes of light here and there on the shore as we passed. Then up ahead on the left I saw golden light shining on a sort of Hellenistic Greek figure draped over a chair, apparently in some kind of passed out stupor. Picture the statue of Liberty after way too much to drink. My instincts made me want to get the hell on by that because it gave me a bad feeling, so I kept rowing.

 

What seemed like a long time later I saw a dim magenta light shining on the left shore again. This felt right, so I got out and sat on the ground in the light. For a long time nothing happened, then I could see glints and glimmers like something almost invisible was in front of me, perhaps another figure in a chair. Then I got the sense that it sneaked around behind me and started speaking softly behind my right ear in a language I couldn’t understand. I wondered if I’ve expected too much of the city over the years, and got the feeling the Deva agreed, and perhaps she said something like “Seek and ye shall find.” The top of my head grew warm, and the soft voice continued in an unknown language. Then the light abruptly went out. I waited a few more minutes, but she was done, had taken off without ceremony. I sat wondering what to make of all this until Janet started drumming faster in a signal for us to get back in the boat and start rowing back.

 

I didn’t get the sense that the Deva was impressed with our visit. I assumed she would at least consider it a novelty. I can’t imagine she gets company often, but then again what do I know. The sense I got from her was one of overwhelming indifference. Maybe a little downright contrariness.

 

Wolf Woman said the Deva appeared to her as a homeless lady pushing a grocery cart. Wolf Woman followed her for a while but the lady never acknowledged her.

 

Jyothi encountered the Deva in the form of her grandmother. She didn’t say much more about it, but later I want to ask her what her grandmother was like.

 

Next we took out a map of the city. We planned to purify it of any energy left over from battles fought in wars and episodes of social unrest here. Jyothi noticed the zip codes on it were all wrong, and said maybe we shouldn’t use it, but I wanted to since I’d remembered to bring it and it was part of the plan. At the same time, I got the sense that the Deva wouldn’t consider this as doing her any kind of favor. But anyway we visualized a purple vortex over the map pulling up and neutralizing strife energy in the city.

 

The rosemary made almost too much of a fire. It burns like crazy and smokes like mad. It smoked up the neighborhood and Jyothi was afraid fire trucks would arrive soon.

 

Then we de-invoked and ate some chocolate, leaving an offering for our ancestors.

 

I didn’t leave this ritual with any sense of closure at all, and I told Wolf Woman on the way back to my car that I’m thinking maybe the Deva isn’t quite done with us. I also get the feeling she might have a wicked sense of humor and that any communicating she does in the form of symbols or synchronistic events might not be as warm and fuzzy as we’d prefer.

Heart Hazards

January 29, 2009

I got into the massage/Reiki field because, I reasoned, it would allow me to make a living and practice mindful meditation at the same time. I also wanted to have a usefull skill that would allow me to help other people.

But I’ve come to realize I’ve got a tyrannically stingy nature that gets in the way. I find myself  judging clients and I have to push my goodwill through the judgment, if that makes any sense. It’s ironic but I resent them because they’ve got enough disposable income to come to a day spa.

I do Blue Medicine Budda meditation while I’m doing massage or Reiki, which involves visualizing the Medicine Buddha in front of you watching what you’re doing. At the same time you imagine he’s becoming you and sending healing blue energy into the person you’re working on. I do the Medicine Buddha chant in my head and think “For the greatest and highest good of the universe, may this person have happiness and the causes of happiness.”

But it’s hard for me to feel true generosity doing this on clients who I know spend a lot of regular money on manicures and pedicures. I know that’s pointlessly judgemental. I just hope it doesn’t stop the blue mojo from moving through me.

I used to do regular energy work trade with an acquaintance, and after each time she worked on me she’d say she’d gotten the sense that my heart chakra was in a sad state of affairs. While she was working on my heart area I’d see an image of a black octagon. I don’t know what that means, but I’m pretty sure it’s not a good sign.

From time to time I get a vague sense that I’m not living a full emotional life, but I’m not sure how to remedy this situation or if I want to. It might mean venting a lot of old emotional anguish, painful sinuses and swollen eyes and headache from crying. Followed by a propensity to cry for no little to no reason all the time afterward. It might be like drowning.

What I think would help me is if I could find a group to practice Tonglen meditation with. In this meditation you imagine inhaling the suffering of others into your heart, where it becomes neutralized. Doing Tonglen meditation in a group  helps me a lot, I think, but I’m afraid to do it on my own. I can’t say why I’m afraid it will contaminate me, but I am, and once I got a respiratory infection after I’d been practicing on my own.

The resistance I feel during Tonglen meditation is similar to the resistance I sometimes feel while doing Medicine Buddha work on my clients.

Imbolc Ritual ’09 Draft

January 26, 2009

Imbolc is next Monday, but we’re going to observe the day before. We’ll use Jyothi’s back yard, provided it’s not raining. Our purpose is to process and heal our sense of isolation, and to contact the Deva of our city and see if it has any messages for us. I wrote about the sources I used for this planning in my last entry.

Chi Gong excercises to get our energy going, smudge to purify.

 

Cast circle – call in directions

 

Walk a reverse pentacle (marked out in sawdust) for banishing resentments/disappointments related to our feelings of isolation and loss of community. Have fire in the middle where we can burn letters we’ve written about these feelings. Possibly rice paper and water if we have to have this inside.

 

Coning – call in our higher selves, the Deva of Greensboro, and the White Brotherhood.

 

Spirit Boat trance/meditation for guidance about what we can do to find the community feeling we need. J. will drum for this.

 

Space clearing/battle clearing on map of city. We’ll visualize a healing/purifying purple vortex to include everything in the circle as well as the map, so it gets us too. J. will pendulum dowse to determine if areas on the map need Rescue Remedy flower essences for further balancing.

 

Ground

 

Open circle

 

Eat, discuss

 

I’m thinking we can get Jyothi’s daugher to light candles for the directions. She’s 10 and we need to have something for her to do. Of course we may think of changes or things we need to leave out or add while we’re doing it.

Imbolc ’09 planning

January 22, 2009

Imbolc is coming up, and for the first time in years I’ve decided to get together with some other folks to formally observe it.

 

I’ve belonged to a few different pagan groups in the past, and find that observing the pagan holidays in a ritual with a bunch of other people adds a valuable something to my life. My favorite brand of paganism is Reclaiming, and I’ve been to a couple of Witchcamps. I wish I could do more. I’ve driven a lot of miles to get my pagan jollies. I’ve always thought it would be nice to have access to Reclaiming-style pagan activities without having to travel so far. Briefly I belonged to a group here in town but that imploded in a big old mess of hurt feelings and thwarted expectations. We were all in that group for different reasons, conflicting reasons as it turned out.

 

I’ve wanted try spells to improve community life for a long time, having first heard about that at Witchcamp. So this year I decided to research ways to plan such a thing. I found some good stuff in Machelle Wright’s Perelandra books about working with Devas, or spirits of place. She subscribes to the idea that locations have a spirit with a personality and the ability to communicate, and they can tell you what to do to have a healthy garden.

 

What I want to do is on a much larger scale, being a city-wide thing. And I want to incorporate some trance work with a Shaman I know.

 

So I met with three other people to talk about doing a spell to purify the city of whatever bad mojo might be left over from strife related to the European incursion, Revolutionary War, Civil War, and Civil Rights era. But one person said she wanted to the spell to heal her. She’s feeling wounds related to the dissolution of the intentional community house she was a part of. Then the other two people talked about how they feel isolated these days too, and how they miss a time in the past when this town was a hub of opportunity for people like us, people on the edge. I realized they were voicing my feelings too.

 

So we’re going to draft a ritual to acknowledge our grief for the sense of belonging here we’ve lost, and we’re also going to attempt to contact the deva of the town to see what it wants for itself and if it has any suggestions for us, then do the purification of the city with a map and some flower essences. We still have some time to plan the specifics.

More later.

The other day Orlandine said she went to pick up her car from Johnny Rakehell, and while she was there he invited her out to breakfast, and they talked about the past. They put some things to rest. She felt lost pieces of her soul fall back into place because of this closure. I was relieved for her.

 

My head’s been a spin cycle of thoughts about like: “If you get panicked and fearful about mud shadows it feeds them” and “If you get complacent about them it’s because they talked you into it.” But last night I remembered that I have all the resources I need to deal with mud shadows. I just can’t stick with any of these methods consistently. In theory, A New Earth or Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep or Old Path White Clouds should be all I’d need to guide me to a life of spiritual wholeness. But once I’m done with a book I tend to be done with it. It stretches my brain and maybe even my habits for a while, but then my brain goes back to the shape of its old frantic self.

 

I guess the devil is in your habits, and habits are bastards to beat. Establishing a regular morning meditation habit is actually more difficult for me than it was to stop smoking. The key was, I had a lot of social support to stop smoking. And I got pneumonia from it, which was a big motivator too. Not that I want a similar physical emergency to help me in my quest for mindfulness.

 

I wish there were a church experience that would meet my needs here. But there’s not enough density of people with my spiritual needs here to support one. There are meditation groups around but they’re a 30 to 90 minute drive away, and I don’t stick with activities that require that much of a drive. Hmm. I guess that’s something I need to work on…

Earlier this year I read Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth. It seems to me that what he calls ego and pain body are synonymous with Castaneda’s mud shadows. “You want peace,” Tolle writes. “There is no one who doesn’t want peace. Yet there is something in you that wants the drama, wants the conflict.” These dramas and conflicts get preserved in the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves in the process of creating and maintaining our identities. We can never let go of old hurts.

 

Tolle says individual pain bodies take a life of their own, and when they start feeling weak they look for other pain bodies to provoke. Then there’s interpersonal conflict and the painbodies involved get replenished. The Cycle of Violence could easily be thought of as the feeding cycle for mud shadows or painbodies. “The pain body is an addiction to unhappiness,” Tolle says.

 

            “It may be shocking when you realize for the first time that there is something in you that periodically seeks emotional negativity, seeks unhappiness. You need even more awareness to see it in yourself than to recognize it in another person. Once the unhappiness has taken you over, not only do you not want an end to it, but you want to make others just as miserable as you are in order to feed on their negative emotional reactions.”

 

It’s fairly easy to recognize the influence of a hungry painbody, Tolle goes on to say.

 

            “The voice in your head will be telling sad, anxious, or angry stories about yourself or your life, about other people, about past, future, or imaginary events. The voice will be blaming, accusing, complaining, imagining. And you are totally identified with whatever the voice says, believe all its distorted thoughts. At that point, addiction to unhappiness has set in.”

 

The only thing that’s an effective deterrent against these shadows is awareness cultivated through discipline. As somebody who’s devoid of discipline, that’s pretty scary. I’ve been writing a lot lately, which seems like a good thing, but deep down I know my diligence with writing is simply an excuse not to do my morning meditation. This writing is, perhaps, reinforcing my ego and feeding the mud shadows.

 

Time and DNA

September 13, 2008

Just dreamed I was in college and had to give a presentation about why time is like DNA. Most of the class had already done theirs; I was sitting near the back of a basement classroom looking at my notes for what I was to say and a lot seemed to be missing. I remembered initial enthusiasm for the topic when the assignment was first given and writing about it but none of that was before me. I looked forward to getting up and talking about how time expands and contracts depending on what you’re doing with it, and how at Witchcamp they invoke time at ritual like it’s Athena or The Green Man. But it’d been so long I’d lost my notes and my thoughts on the subject had scattered. In fact, I’d had to ask someone else what the specifics of the assignment were – what about time was I supposed to say? Students around me were helpful. One girl, who I recognized from somewhere else but couldn’t remember where, seemed a little snobby but still went to ask someone a question for me. Then I remembered I’d met her near the beginning of the year and she was in a band and the exclusive society that developed around it. I wasn’t able to listen to anyone else’s talk because I was trying to prepare for my own. I realized I had a lot of enthusiasm for this subject but not much to say. Felt a trifle disappointed that it wasn’t coming together smoothly but hadn’t given up yet. Knew I had to come up with something better than “Time unfolds like DNA” but didn’t know how and was resistant to the implication that time is already completely laid out like DNA.

Prior to that I’d been in a courtyard building, condos in floors around an open courtyard. It reminded me of a house I went to a party to in Paris – from the street you’d never know it was there; all that was visible was storefronts. But upstairs and behind the stores were corridors and another world where people were living. It was an old building and hard to get into but very, very cool. Not buzzing with activity inside but had a somewhat abandoned feel, like a squat or a place newly reclaimed from disuse. Tall ceilings and white paint. Windows like in an old textile factory building, floors too. Mazelike. Now that I think about it, I have a vague notion that this place felt like where I took an Ascension class.

 

Have been reading two books: Tracks in the Wilderness of Dreaming by Robert Bosnak and Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche. Both are about greater awareness through lucid dreaming. Several years ago I had a couple of lucid dreams and they were a profound experience, something I’d like to do again. I wonder if I’m not afraid to do it again. The bursts of lucidity in my dreams are generally followed by “What do I do now?” and confusion and panic.