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Yes, for you, sweetie. Antelopes are my spirit animal, and I see them solo in the wilderness more often than I see them in herds, which is unusual. Perhaps somehow they all know that they are my spirit animal. When I take shamanic journeys, my antelope is always there to greet me when I reach the lower world, with the daisy chain I set around her neck when first we met.

A Flower for me
Weld County, Colorado.

Perhaps this sounds a bit wacky to those of you who don’t know that I am a shaman-in-training, a training that indeed takes a lifetime. And surprisingly, I do not find it inconsistent with my evolving spiritual feelings that fall a bit more into the mainstream. I have been thrilled by Pope Francis’ visit to the United States. I’m not Catholic, but I don’t think anyone needs to be Catholic to find this man inspirational. It is refreshing to find a religious leader who is humble, accepting, and who has clearly spent time in prayer and contemplation to examine and evolve his beliefs to a point that he feels is more Christ-like.

I rarely speak of religion here, just as a rarely speak of politics, but I suspect that, as I feel my own life opening up and new possibilities coming to the surface, that I will be speaking of these more controversial topics more often. I want others to hear my voice, as well as see the world through my eyes. This blog is dedicated to beauty and gratitude, and that will never change, but it is also dedicated to finding the right words, and I am feeling called to do just that. We’ll see if that actually happens.

Quote of the day: “Become who you say you always will. Keep moving. Don’t stop. Start the revolution. Become a freedom fighter. Become a superhero. Just because everyone doesn’t know your name doesn’t mean you dont matter.” — Brian Krans

Daily gratitudes:
MKL
Talking with Lisa
Letters – actual paper letters
The giant baseball in the back of the pickup truck at Coors Field
The giant inflatable hand holding the giant inhaler on Wynkoop Street

The election was a while ago. And during the election, I was saddened to see the divisiveness between people who supported Barak Obama and people who supported Mitt Romney, but I tried to understand it. However, I was never able to understand the insulting, venomous words that seemed to spew forth from both sides.

Now, Barak Obama is president. More than half of the people wanted that outcome, and so he won. But the hate keeps coming.

I’m not a constitutional scholar. I don’t follow politics that closely. I don’t stay on top of all the international happenings. I admit it. But I do support my country. I love my country. I love my fellow countrypeople. If I had to categorize myself, I’d say I’m a liberal.

And I’m hurt.

I see people on various social media platforms, people whom I know and love, spreading hate. And I want to speak here to my friends:

Reposting things from sites such as “Things Liberals Hate”, and “Let’s Make Fun of Liberals” – hey, I’m a liberal, and I’m your friend. I don’t agree with what you’re saying (though I defend your right to say it) because it’s mean and hateful and doesn’t help our country or its people get along and act as one. Whey would you share things like that? And what’s more, would you come and say that stuff to my face? I thought you liked me. Why are you painting all “liberals” with the same ugly brush. Why not paint something beautiful on a fresh canvas?

When you post a link to an article that says that Obama basically killed the victims of the Benghazi attack, I read it. Maybe I’ve missed something in the mainstream media coverage. I’m open minded enough to think that could be the case, and I know there are some things that the government sweeps under the rug. But when that article spouts suppositions and calls them facts, and makes its own unsupported claims, I feel discouraged. I tried to understand your point of view, and I am saddened by what I see.

And you are Christians- devoutly so. I believe what I believe. And as you know, I believe in spirituality and the power of the universe. I respect your beliefs. I would never judge you for what you believe. I do think, though, that Jesus was trying to bring people together to live a life of harmony and devotion. I also believe that all religions can co-exist peacefully. Acceptance was a large part of Jesus’ teachings. If you’re going to call me a murderer because I believe in a woman’s right to choose, or tell me my child is going to hell because he or she is gay, how am I to react to that? How am I to react to you personally? I find myself praying for YOU, to release the hate in your heart that somehow grown there in the name of things that are holy.

I can see why most of the wars in history have been fought about religion. What I can’t understand is why, if we all believe in the same God, we cannot respect each other’s right to find our own path to that same God.

And I can see how, if your political beliefs differ from those of our elected president, you may feel disappointed, and want something different. That’s why we have elections every four years. But if you love your country, support its leader. Inspire change by your positive actions, not by spreading hateful words. Open your eyes to see that we are all in this together, and we all want the same thing, and to achieve that, we must band together as a nation. I believe our president wants the same thing as we do: a prosperous economy and a peaceful world. Saying you want those things, however, does not make it so. He operates in a political machine that refuses to compromise – I’m not even sure what the good of all the unwillingness to work together within our government is, but I can certainly see it being reflected in the split among people – among friends – within our country. Within our system, the president cannot just say, “This is how it’s going to be”. So, no, he can’t immediately make things better. But he’s trying.

I want us all to try. I want to feel like my friends are people who appreciate our differences. They can know that I will ALWAYS have their backs, and if they need something, they can ALWAYS turn to me for help. It sounds awfully simple, doesn’t it?

I will (almost) end this mini-rant with a reiteration of a Thomas Jefferson quote I posted last month:
“I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.”

But please, act like my friend. I love you. And remember another quote, this by John Watson: “Be kind. everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

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Today in 1587, Mary, Queen of Scots, was executed at Fotheringay Castle, after being imprisoned in various locations for 19 years, accused of plotting against Queen Elizabeth I.  What a sad life for what history portrays as a good woman. 

Beautiful, intelligent, compassionate (and tall at 5’11”), Mary had a particularly strong tolerance for religious worship of all kinds, completely at odds with the bloody Catholic vs. Protestant conflict that was so strong during this time.  Coupled with the conflict and corruption among Scottish lords, her sympathetic nature weakened her strength as a ruler.  She was, in my opinion, taken advantage of by many men in the course of her reign, coerced into situations and marriages in an attempt to make peace among the Scots.  It seems to me to be a rarity that a monarch was such a political pawn.

When she turned to her cousin, Queen Elizabeth, for aid, the queen responded by imprisoning her on suspicion of plotting to overturn the English throne.  Depending on which historical account you study, the validity of this accusation is debatable.  What is not debatable is that Elizabeth did indeed sign the order to have Mary executed, though she later denied that she knew just what she was signing, which, knowing what we do about Queen Elizabeth, is pure codswallop.

Mary died with dignity in a scarlet gown, though it took two strokes of the executioner’s axe to behead her.  Legend has it that when the executioner lifted her head in the air, it fell to the ground, and he was left holding her red wig, which she had used to cover her thin, prematurely grey hair.  She was only 44 years old.  She left behind one son (from her second marriage), James, who she last saw when he was 10 months old, and who later became King of England.

I had a certain fascination with the tragic tale of Mary, Queen of Scots when I was a child, perhaps spurred by seeing the movie with Vanessa Redgrave.  I still have an excellent book about her life that my parents bought me when I was about ten.

Today marks the first accusations that sparked the Salem witch trials in the Massachusetts colony in 1692.  Between February 1692 and May 1693, 29 people were convicted of this ridiculous crime, with hundreds being either arrested or accused.   With religious fervor attributing any ill event to the wrath of God, along with increasing dissention in small communities around such issues as land ownership, spiritual leadership and political confusion, the time was ripe for some drama.   And Puritan minister John Hale  stirred it up with his assessment of young Betty Parris as having fits “beyond the power of natural disease to affect.” 

Betty and her cousin Abigail both displayed behaviors such as blasphemous screaming, seizures and apparent trances, which other Salem girls exhibited shortly thereafter.  (My personal opinion is that this was a “tween” bid for attention that worked with unparalleled success.  Had none of these people ever had an adolescent daughter before?).  Subsequent accusation of several women who were “different” from most of the community set the witch hunt afire.

(As an aside, the concept of being “different” making a woman vulnerable to false accusations is something that remains common in our culture.  That which we don’t recognize as ourselves arouses our suspicion and makes us uncomfortable.  I speak from bitter experience here.)

According to our friend Wikipedia, the Puritans held some extreme notions about women.  “Women, they believed, should be totally subservient to men. By nature, a woman was more likely to enlist in the Devil’s service than was a man, and women were considered lustful by nature.  The majority of accused ‘witches’ were unmarried or recently widowed land-owning women; according to the law if no legal heir existed upon the owner’s death, title to the land would revert to the previous owner, or (if no previous owner could be determined) to the colony.  This made witch-hunting a possible method of acquiring a profitable piece of property.”  Nice, huh?  Just makes you want to give organized religion a BIG hug.

Over 300 years later, interest in the Witch Trials persists among descendents, scholars and laypeople.  I think that’s good, since, as with other tragic historical events, particularly those fueled by a certain amount of hysteria, if we forget or ignore them, we are likely to find ourselves repeating them.

This is an episode in history that has always interested me, no doubt because of my own “shine”.  Besides, I’d have been convicted immediately due to my “witch’s teat.”  At any rate, women sure were getting some tough breaks in history today.

Lastly, on this day in 1855 in the town of Devon (England), a series of footprints appeared in the snow.  Hoofprint-shaped and sometimes cloven, the tracks went on for over 100 miles, often crossing rooftops and rivers and entering and exiting drainpipes, in nearly straight lines.  Again causing a certain amount of hysteria, their origin withstands explanation to this day.  (Interestingly, the phenomenon occurred again in Devon on March 13th of last year – and scientists still have no answers.)

We North Carolinians seem to have a certain fascination with devilish imprints, as we boast both the Devil’s Hoofprints at Bath, and the Devil’s Tramping Ground outside of Bennett.  I have a dim recollection of E-Bro (and perhaps his friend Erik the Red?) trying to camp at the latter once during our high school days.  And I dimly recall that it didn’t work out so well.

Thus endeth the history lesson.  Hope you feel slightly enlightened.

Since leaving Pat, I have been able to spend more time contemplating spirituality, something I haven’t done since my teens, but which I enjoyed very much back in those days.

Some background: my father was a theological librarian, one of the foremost in the country. He developed a collection of books that touched on every aspect of religion and spirituality and was equally broad-minded in his own personal views. In his pre-library days, he had come very close to being an ordained minister, but realized, shortly before the day of reckoning, that he could not answer any of these spiritual questions for himself, therefore he could not answer them for others, thus realizing that the calling was not for him. In fact, he stopped attending church services entirely, with the exception of rare occasions when friends were preaching at the non-denominational Duke Chapel, and the midnight Christmas Eve service. I can still recall him telling me that God made Sunday a day of rest, and so that was what he was going to do on Sundays – rest. Interestingly enough, my brother and I seem to have somewhat different views of his spirituality, based on our respective discussions with him. I don’t recall us ever discussing this as a family unit. But he did say my prayers with me from the time I was tiny until he stopped putting me to bed – at which point I believe I stopped saying my prayers.

My Mother, on the other hand, had more of an esoteric approach. She never spoke of going to church, but went when the family did. She studied the works of Joseph Campbell, Krishnamurti, Kahil Gibran and numerous philosophers throughout her life; I think those writings shaped her own opinions of spirituality, which she really kept mostly to herself. At the end, she hedged her bets by “accepting Jesus into her heart as her Lord and Saviour” with her ultra-ultra-Born Again Christian friend, but spoke of it unemotionally, as she knew that she had no control over what would happen in the afterlife. She just thought “better safe than sorry” – and it made her friend very happy.

My Mother believed in reincarnation as much as she believed in anything regarding what might happen after you die. Perhaps I got that belief from her, but for myself, I recall always just knowing it. She also had a certain ability to be in touch with mystical realms, and had numerous experiences in her teens and twenties which were powerful and frightening for her, at which point she basically turned that power off, away, whatever you want to call it. While this surprises me, as she was a curious woman, I know she never liked feeling out of control, and her interactions with other realms struck her as something beyond her control.

We are part of a line of women who have had this gift, this “shine”. My grandmother had it, though she may have only discussed it with her daughters – she did several past life regressions to help her understand her relationships. My Mother had it, though she turned away from it. My aunt had it, and was much more accepting of it, though she had some experiences that just sounded wacky. I have it, as is demonstrated by many things – pleasant hauntings, not so pleasant hauntings, paranormal sensitivity. And my daughter shows an inclination towards it, which I encourage as I explore my own boundaries. Boundaries is a good word – my Mother, recognizing this ability in me, used to warn me about opening up, as both good and bad things can come in.

As I learn more about both the spiritual and the physical world, I am coming to understand boundaries as necessary for self-preservation. I am improving at setting them. In the last few months, I’ve been inspired to explore the Shamanic side of spirituality. (The term ‘spirituality’ is a conundrum – it is completely accurate and yet totally misleading, depending on how you interpret it.) I’m a complete newb, but I am enjoying it, and feel if I keep practicing, I will be able to channel a lot of my innate spirituality into this work, and focus it for healing. I like it. At the same time, as perhaps my Mother warned me, I can feel as I open myself up to other realms, some not-so-great things creep towards my spirit. More of the Voodoo or Obeah influences, which are not necessarily bad, but are indeed powerful, seem to be fringing my consciousness, and I’m not sure what to do with them.

More later……

July 2020
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