Monday, March 27, 2006

In Praise of Difficult Women... Then And Now

In praise of difficult women - then and now
Rachel Buchman is the managing editor of Dragonfire, Drexel University's online magazine for news and culture.

Vashti is the anti-heroine of the Jewish holiday Purim, which took place this year on March 14. It's a fun holiday full of costume parties and much drinking in celebration of the Jews' escape from a death plot in ancient Persia. The traditional heroine of the story is Queen Esther, who saves her people by revealing her Jewish identity to her husband, King Achashverosh, putting herself in grave personal danger. Vashti is the king's first wife, whom he tosses out of the palace when she embarrasses him by refusing to dance before his counselors.
March is also Women's History Month, a time to reflect on the status of women. One of the challenges that stirs my feminist ire is the soft sexism so ingrained in our society, hard to detect and harder to root out. Often, strong women such as Vashti get pigeonholed as pushy. But I wanted to see what would happen if Vashti were made the heroine of Purim.
Picture Vashti, rhumba hips, no deodorant. She likes her grapes, her figs, her slave boys. The King is a fool. Somebody has to run the castle. Who's going to write the edicts, schedule the cleaning, plan menus, arrange marriages, and demand those special olives his majesty likes so much?
Vashti is chillin' with her ladies while the men are out back barbecuing. The women are lying on silk pillows, being rubbed down with oils, being fanned by eunuchs - it's a pretty good party, even if they hadn't invented appletinis yet. Then in comes the king's posse, demanding Vashti come dance for the guests. She isn't having it. She refuses. She is replaced.
She is... difficult.
When I was a kid, my grandfather used to say, "Rachel don't let no one spit in her cereal." I was difficult then and I'm difficult now. "Don't be difficult," my mother would sigh as I kicked and screamed. Now I walk down the street, glorious and free in the new spring air, delighted at the breeze tickling my arm hair, the back of my exposed neck. But with the fine weather comes the bugs and the thugs. Forget whistling and off-color remarks; this one guy couldn't even form a complete sentence. "Legs!" he shouted as I walked by in my first skirt of the season. "Very good," I wanted to say. "You can correctly identify body parts." But I heard it in the back of my head: "Don't be difficult."
Well, I want to be difficult. My favorite women are difficult. Look at Rosa Parks. I can just hear her mother saying, "Just find a seat in the back of the bus, Rosa. Don't be difficult." But she was difficult - a pain, and look where it has brought us.
My mother - she of the warnings - man, was she difficult. And she got it from her mother, who came to this country on her grandmother's dime. My grandmother went to business school in secret. She got married, divorced the guy when he wouldn't let her work, and started her own nursing home. How's that for difficult?
So this is my ode to all the fat actresses, wicked witches, and sluts. For Martha Stewart and biblical Leah, who would not marry second. For my sister, who got her Ph.D. when no one thought she was smart enough.
And to all the women who won't straighten their curly hair, or dye it blonde, or diet. For all the women who won't brighten their teeth or lift their breasts. For all the women who would rather read than clean, run than shop, eat than starve. For all the women who aren't afraid to choose themselves. Thank you for being difficult!
Vashti would not dance. So she gets replaced by Barbie - I mean, Esther - and the king sends a decree to every household in the land "that every man shall be master in his home." So ushers in the era of easy Esther. We never hear from Vashti again, beautiful, beguiling bitch. I wonder what happened to her. Did she have to sell her body? Was there some home for banished queens? Or did she open up a bar someplace in Persia - best lamb kebabs and apricot nectar in town - dance when she wanted, take all the money, all the young serving boys, all the credit? I think she did. After all, she was just that difficult.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Age Doesn't Matter Unless You're Wine or Cheese

Age Doesn’t Matter Unless You’re Wine or Cheese…..

Ah, yes, but there is definitely a certain amount of joy to be found in it regardless.  It all depends upon attitude and vision of self.  I definitely know what a wide range of joy there is to experience these days, and I’d like to share some of that with you.  

What’s the reason for this today?  Simple.  Tomorrow, 3/24, I am Celebrating my 50th birthday!  Yes, I said 50.  I’m happy about it, pretty near to ecstatic about it, and proud of it to boot.  It is a milestone in so many ways:  Middle age; I can join the AARP; I can join the Red Hat Ladies Society…  LOL!

There are definitely days when my body enjoys reminding me that I am 50, but that’s mostly when my Fibromyalgia decides to flare up, and that’s usually due to my trying to do all the things I used to do when I was a whole lot younger.  Key to dealing with that?  Adequate sleep, and a properly balanced diet.  Oh, and maybe easing up on trying to do everything all by myself (like moving furniture).   Attitude adjustment?  Definitely!  It’s okay to ask for help, even for stubborn Aries people like me.  

I believe that the main thing that is helping me stay young in spirit is love and joy, and looking for it and finding it in all its different aspects every day.   I know that there is really nothing I can’t do, as long as I believe that I can, and more importantly as long as what I do is for the right reasons.  

So, my joys?  My celebration of life is because of…

… of my fiancé and partner, Ron…. Thank you for sharing your love with me and believing in me and us…
…My Heart Sisters who are always with me in my heart and soul <and in my head too! LOL>  I am so very honored and grateful to be able to share this walk with you, and I love each of you so very much…
…My work, both mundane and spiritual, which allows me to help and guide other people to see…
… My Goddess and God, for being there for me when life was dark, and showing me the way to this path…

So tomorrow, I get to sleep in (no alarm clocks), I’m getting my ears pierced again, I get to spend the day with my Love, and then go out for dinner with some dear friends, and I might even get a bit of a hair cut… Oh, don’t worry, I’m not chopping it off, just revitalizing it a bit!  

My wish for all of you today… May you find joy in your lives.  It IS there, all you have to do is look for it and see what it really is.  


Monday, March 20, 2006

Freedom of The Spirit

Freedom of the Spirit by Owen Waters
True freedom is the ability to express who you are through a natural flow of love and creativity.
It’s an Inside Job
Freedom is first gained within your consciousness. Then, because your outer life always reflects that which is within, you gain freedom in all aspects of your life.
Often, much of this potential flow of authentic life experience is reduced by inner blockages. These blockages of the natural flow of love and creativity are formed by the fear-based emotions that come with the challenges of human existence.
Fear is the common factor underlying all disharmonious emotions. For example, fear of inadequacy can lead to jealousy and hatred, fear of lack can generate an over-reaction of greed, while fear of being overwhelmed by life’s challenges can lead to control issues.
Welcome to Planet Earth
When you are born into the human race, you arrive with your own, self-made, personal life plan. This plan includes a list of the personal and societal issues that you intend to work through during this lifetime. Your carefully made plan includes the location and surroundings of your birth as well as your choice of parents. It also includes the friends and associates that you will be likely to meet as your life unfolds.
The personal and societal issues that we adopt in our lives today are generally based upon the consciousness of separation, or duality rather than unity. For example, one issue being worked through today is equality of the sexes. The Old Reality of separation consciousness demanded separation of the power of the sexes into societies based on either matriarchy or patriarchy. The New Reality, into which we are shifting, requires an equality of the sexes; an integration of that which was formerly separated into two. Every woman and every man today is playing some part in this massive societal adjustment towards equality of the sexes.
As the purpose of the entire human experience is to work through and transform such issues, it is appropriate that we seek an elegant solution to all of these fear-based issues. When enough people pass through the gateway into freedom of the spirit, then the hundredth monkey phenomenon will click in and, suddenly, the whole world will wonder why it hadn’t seen such an easy solution all along.
The Shift to the New Reality is a shift to heart-centered and heart-powered consciousness. Society is building up to a critical mass where consciousness will flip from ‘you versus me’ to ‘you and me,’ a shift from competition to mutual cooperation. Every day, more and more people are making this shift to heart-powered consciousness. With a little inner work, these individual transitions to the New Reality happen sooner and more easily.
Dissolving Blockages to Love
Inner work, primarily, means daily meditation. When you make meditation your number one priority each and every day, then you are putting in the time that it takes to transform those societal issues within yourself and to work through your own challenges.
During meditation, you also connect to a wider range of your own consciousness. The deeper layers of your own consciousness can provide you with insights that literally catapult you out of issue-based blockages. As you allow these blockages to dissolve into the light of spiritual consciousness, you become free to express your true nature and to follow your inner joy.
Spiritual study helps adapt your mind to expanded views of reality. There is a recommended reading list of modern spiritual classics on this web site.
The Illusion of Fear
Some concepts in spiritual philosophy also help along this journey into freedom of the spirit. For example, love and fear seem to act like two opposite poles of mankind’s duality consciousness. Actually, from the viewpoint of unity, love is all there is and fear is an illusion which detracts from the natural flow of love through you. Love is a basic component of the original Creator consciousness that fills the universe. Love, therefore, is always available and ready to flow naturally through your heart. You do not have to earn it or demand it, just let it flow.
Allowance and Acceptance
Another key philosophy in gaining freedom is “Live and let live.” When you allow other people to be the way they are, your energy is not absorbed in anyone’s futile dramas. Instead, you are able to use all of your energy to follow your joy and help make the world a better place. You can recognize, love, and accept the inner essence of every person you know, regardless of their outward behavior or how much it may seem to need improvement. It is this unconditional love which heals the world, person by person, and there is no shortage of its supply.
Acceptance of yourself is also vital. Accept who you are now, unimproved, with your current motivations and be thankful that you are exactly who you are. You planned to adopt a certain package of feelings and circumstances in your journey through life. There is nothing ‘wrong’ with you at any point along the journey. Things that appear to need improvement are challenges, not faults, so enjoy the ride and gain the most from the experiences that you came to explore. For example, the inventor, Thomas Edison, carried out over 6,000 experiments before perfecting the first electric light bulb, but he never referred to any of those experiments as failures. Instead, he called each one a step closer to success.
Gaining Freedom of the Spirit
Freedom from fear-based emotions allows true, unconditional love to flow through your heart and true creativity to fill your mind as you pursue your deepest inner joy.
When you see fear as the hollow illusion that it is and allow your heart to open to everyone in your life, then your actions are influenced, not by fear, but by your unconditional love for the people around you and, equally, for yourself. Unconditionally loving yourself means allowing yourself to develop loving relationships where mutual cooperation, not competition or contention, becomes your daily reality.
People’s greatest fears melt away in the face of heart-powered, inner awareness. Your intuitive insight is your connection to the part of your mind that knows each situation, even before it occurs. When you listen to that still, small voice within, you know where you need to be and when. With intuitive insight, you will never become caught up in unfortunate events that are not of your making. For example, if an aircraft is destined to crash, you simply won’t be on it. If you need information to bring yourself back to health, you will know where to find the answers that are the best for you. Even the fear of loneliness will never cloud your heart because, with love in your heart, you will never be left wanting for good company. 
Love and insight will pour from your heart if you let them. Give yourself the gift of true freedom, the freedom to express who you are through a natural flow of love and creativity.
This article was written by Owen Waters, author of "The Shift: The Revolution in Human Consciousness"

Friday, March 17, 2006

The Four Agreements

The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book) – Don Miguel Ruiz

Everything we do is based on agreements we have made - agreements with ourselves, with other people, with God, with life. But the most important agreements are the ones we make with ourselves. In these agreements we tell ourselves who we are, how to behave, what is possible, what is impossible. One single agreement is not such a problem, but we have many agreements that come from fear, deplete our energy, and diminish our self-worth."

In this powerful book that has remained on The New York Times Bestseller List for over five years,Don Miguel reveals the source of self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy and create needless suffering. When we are ready to change these agreements, there are four deceptively simple, yet powerful agreements that we can adopt as guiding principles. The Four Agreements offer a powerful code of conduct that can rapidly transform our lives to a new experience of freedom, true happiness, and love.

1. Be Impeccable With Your Word
Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

Don't Take Anything Personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you wonít be the victim of needless suffering.

Don't Make Assumptions
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

Always Do Your Best
Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Surviving The Spiritual Gauntlet

Surviving the Spiritual Gauntlet
By Aluna Joy

Center of the SUN ~ EQUINOX UPDATE

Having entered the first few days of March, it has become quite apparent that we have hit some really powerful energy. I have been watching Equinoxes over the past 12 years, and they just seem to be getting more and more powerful. I have been having powerful visions/dreams... and nightmares (unusual for me) where I see dark beings rising up from the underworld, and I fight to stop them. The last couple of nights I could not tell if I was still here, or if I had crossed over to the next world. I can feel my nervous system getting re-wired or short circuited . . . it is hard to tell which in this moment. Some of the pieces that I have collected over the last 20 years are just now coming together. All this makes me feel like everything is about to change. I wonder sometimes how we can endure the rise in intensity. But somehow we do.

The entire month of March, that surrounds the Equinox, will be an intense emotional roller coaster month. We will feel far more sensitive to the world. Things might seem so dark that we wonder if we can survive this time. Many people have been having unfounded fears of dying or that the world is ending. Will this shift be comfortable? NO! But will we emerge Masters of it? Absolutely YES! We are going to get really clear about what is not working any more to the point that we will be forced to make many shifts in our lives to continue on. The world is going to change. Our lives are going to change. We cannot tolerate the injustices and misuses of energy and power in this world anymore.

This month is beginning to really look like what I would call a Global Dark Night of the Soul. This sounds really scary, but it is not. "Dark Night of the Soul," by nature is deliberately transformative. It feels like death on all levels. While we may feel battered and worn in the transformation, realize that our Spirits are being tempered in the process. It is MOST IMPORTANT to surrender and trust the process. These unrelenting and intense times help us build spiritual strength by showing us our weak spots. It shows us where we are becoming Masters in our lives. This is a necessary step for our ability to evolve into the 5th Dimension. What a great opportunity for all of us!

It will be imperative at this time of powerful energy, coupled with the Equinox, to be helpful and cooperative with each other. Be good to each other. Love each other. Help each other. This is the beginning of the new world and the birth of a new community. We are the baby chicks struggling to get out of the egg, the caterpillar fighting its way out of the cocoon. The birthing process is hard, but well worth the effort. We are not going to give up. We are about to bust free of the limitations that we have tolerated for way too long. The time is so close now... the times are so powerful... We are letting go of this world...

This Equinox is going to be emotionally challenging for most all of us, but it will also prepare us for the entire year of huge transformation and spiritual awakening. This awakening cannot be stopped. I'll bet you have tried top stop it so you could be comfortable, at one time or another. It is not going to work this time. This is a time of breakdowns, losses and dissolving old paradigms on all levels. This is a time of great opportunity. We can't build a new temple without tearing down the old one. It is time to get brave... get out the spiritual work clothes and do the work. The two eclipses in the month of March will light up any shadows in your back closet that you have yet to clean out. Eclipses shine light into our own darkness. On March 14th there is a Full Moon lunar eclipse which will trigger even more emotional tidal waves.

In these most powerful times, it is very helpful to give yourself time in a sacred place in nature. Sacred places, like mountain tops and temple sites, hold and support higher frequencies, so the transformation comes much easier and with more clarity. If you can get away sometime in the month of March, especially around Equinox, it will ease the transition considerably. Also, high altitudes (over 7000 feet), forks in rivers, waterfalls, the oceans (silicone beach sand can elevate the issues), or deep deserts can clear our heads and lighten the heart.

This is a time where our Spirits are being tested to reach and maintain a higher level of impeccability and personal mastery. Becoming Masters is not about avoiding our feelings and emotions, but mastering how we react to them, no matter what the outer circumstances. Not feeling our emotions is flat lining. We are here to LIVE. So feel the issues, do not take them personally, and rise above them and help those around you. I send you Love and Blessings and will again while in the Maya Lands for Equinox.

Aluna Joy's Website

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Personal Environment Impact Statement

This is from the Proteus Coven’s website, posted here with permission.

About the personal environmental impact statement

by Mevlannen Beshderen and Judy Harrow

Pagans worship the Goddess, Mother Earth. We might call our spiritual path Earth religion, or nature mysticism, or geocentric spirituality, as well as calling it neo-Paganism. All of these terms have been used. Our core spiritual practice is applied Immanence, seeking the Sacred, the source of ultimate meaning and value, in this life, in these bodies, on this Earth, here and now. If religion means re-connection, restoring the linkage between belief and behavior, then surely Nature religion must involve living in a loving and reverent relationship with the Earth.

Practicing what you preach literally brings your belief system to life. Any ritual or worship is a meaningless exercise unless we also walk our talk. Our Mother Earth, who is in a life-threatening crisis, needs our authenticity. So to make our love and worship real, we work for Her protection and healing, as our own best talents lead us. How can we do less? We are, after all, Her children, and we know that our lives are entirely dependent on Hers.

Thinking things through

Effective work requires understanding. For this reason, our group's training program includes a dose of plain old nature study. Moreover, if we are acting in a religious way, acting in full congruence with our geocentric values, we can't engage in activism or public advocacy, in trying to tell others what to do, until we have cleaned up our own acts first. Only when we have understood, and taken responsibility for our own direct impact on the Earth, will our words ring true on all levels.

What we learn about our own effects on the Earth from this exercise in self assessment will help guide us as we reduce, reuse, recycle and, most basic of all, rethink.

The Rede requires us to think through the expected, and unexpected-yet-possible, consequences of our actions, and as much as possible to avoid doing what would predictably cause harm. Of course we know that no one can completely and absolutely avoid doing harm to something, somewhere, by any of our actions. We do the best we can to foresee the probabilities, and yet there is always some unexpected side-effect of our best-intentioned actions. There are also those terrible times when the best we can hope to do is still just the lesser evil. Of course, we are responsible for even the unintended consequences of our actions, in the sense of being obliged to do whatever we can to set things right. We are also responsible for making our extrapolations as accurate as possible.

Personal environmental impact analysis

One of our geocentric training exercises is for each of us to do a personal environmental impact analysis, to explore our own impact on the Earth and to identify some feasible and sustainable ways in which we might lighten that impact. This exercise is personal because the only thing we can actually control is our own behavior; it is also truly collective because no human stands alone on the Earth. All the ways we affect the Earth, for good and for ill, happen in interaction with other people. We are also responsible for the indirect results of our choices. Although we may never even have seen a strip mine, if we roast the Thanksgiving turkey in a disposable aluminum roaster, we support them.

Creating a personal environmental impact statement may seem at first to be a daunting task. We can make it much more approachable if we break it up into chunks and first look at each chunk separately. Later, we can combine these chunks to get a sense of the total impact.

A good choice for the first chunk is to examine how our rites themselves effect the environment. If ever we should cherish and protect the Mother, it's during those rituals in which we profess to worship Her. So, both as an example of how to look at any part of our lives, and because of the symbolic importance of this part, let's look together at the nitty-gritty practical effects of our rites on Mother Earth.

Environmental audits for your rituals

Consider the paths by which your ritual consumables came to you -- the candles from the oil refinery and cotton mill, the charcoal from the sawmill, the salt from an underground mine or a seaside bittern pond, the cakes and wine from a wheatfield and vineyard.

Candles and charcoals are a good example, since most of us are acutely aware of how often they need to be replaced. Mevlannen reminisces:

Back when my first group was starting out, we used second-hand candles from the nearby Catholic parish, whose janitor sold them to us for a dollar a bag. We were always amazed that our Catholic neighbours tossed out their candles after one morning's use: there were still many hours' burning left in them. So long as we were getting our candles so cheaply (at less than five cents apiece) we were happy to burn lots of them. After all, the Lady had Herself told us that She liked candles, lots of candles.

But when we moved to Vancouver, our handy source of candles was no more, and we soon realized that we were going through several dollars worth of candles in an evening -- and this was in the days when we could get good candles at five-for-a-dollar. In our new, smaller covenstead we also noticed that the candles (and our altar charcoal) made our ritual room perceptibly warmer, and we greeted the end of our Circles with great anticipation since that meant we could open the windows and breathe sweet, oxygen-rich, fresh air. So, although we were doing the Lady's bidding by burning candles in Her honour, we were also replacing oxygen with carbon dioxide at a fair clip.

As we found out, a more efficient means of obtaining a steady illuminating flame in Circle is the oil lamp. The efficiency comes partly from the fact that the fuel in a lamp, being a liquid, does not need to be melted before it can be burned (thus increasing the productive ratio of light to heat), and the larger diameter of lamp-wick as compared with candle-wick reduces the amount of convective cooling of the luminous flame, thus increasing overall light production per unit of fuel consumed. As an environmental fringe benefit, lamps can be set up to burn vegetable oil (from a renewable, botanical source) as well as the more usual mineral oil (from a non-renewable, geological source).

Now, what is the charcoal made of? What does burning it take from the air and what does it release?

Consider the environmental costs

Do you know exactly what was entailed in the production and transport of your altar tools? Your athame probably started out as iron ore from an open-pit iron mine in Australia or Labrador, then after a long journey by train and ship it went to a blast furnace and a rolling mill, and then on to a foundry or possibly a machine shop. In the course of that journey from the mine to the store where you bought it, the athame (if made from rolled steel) probably required the use of 900 times its own volume in cooling water alone, and twice its volume in raw iron ore, three times its volume in limestone and twice its volume in coal. An athame made of silver or some other exotic material would have required even greater amounts of raw material, some of which -- like the cooling water -- could be recycled, and some of which like the coal and limestone, was lost forever as carbon dioxide and slag. You can perform this sort of analysis of benefits and environmental costs for each of your magical tools and consumables.

Consider what sort of trade-offs you'd be willing to make

Perhaps you have your heart set on candles instead of lamps for the Quarters and Center -- but have you considered using candle lanterns, which reduce wax consumption by shielding the candle flame from draughts? Beeswax candles are more expensive, but they are not made from irreplaceable petroleum. How do you feel about the use of highly-machined brass castings, with their attendant manufacturing waste, in your candle lanterns?

Having done your analysis of the environmental impacts of your Circles, you might wish to move on to consider your other magical work. Do you do a lot of record keeping or write rituals for your group? If you do, are you using recycled paper? Do you recycle the paper you use for drafts? Consider keeping a stock of high-quality scratch paper by your printer or copier, and using the back sides of the sheets for running out drafts.

Another thing we do a lot of is travel to attend gatherings or Circles. It never fails to amaze us how many people come alone in their own automobiles, when they could just as readily be car-pooling. If you use a car, did you shop for energy efficiency and pollution control, as well as for safety? Do you maintain it well-tuned? When you change the oil, where does the old oil go? Better yet, work towards holding gatherings and public rites at a place which can be reached by train or bus. The Earth will thank you, and so will your fellow-travelers.

Now, having taken stock of the impacts of your religious activity, consider the other areas of your life.

Some simple questions to ask yourself

  • What do I pour down my toilet or into a storm-drain?

  • What is the effect on the body of water (usually a stream or lake) that receives that drainage?

  • Did I need to use, and then dispose of, that liquid in the first instance? If you need to use paint thinner, for example, consider using turpentine (which comes from trees, and is therefore potentially a renewable resource as well as being readily biodegradable thanks to its botanical origin).

  • What about energy?

  • Do you know how the energy you use is produced?

  • Are you careful in how you use it?

  • Is your home well-insulated, and your refrigerator regularly defrosted?

  • If you use battery-operated equipment, what do you do with the highly-toxic dead batteries?
These are just a few examples of the way in which you can look at things in your life, and assess their environmental impact.

Now, probe further

  • What do you buy, and why?

  • What are the side-effects of its use?

  • What happens when you throw it away (must you, really?), or try to re-use or re-cycle it?

  • If you have any investments, are they in Earth-friendly industries or technologies?

  • Even more important, how do you think you can realistically and sustainably reduce your personal impact on the environment?

  • What can you realistically and sustainably do that would actively contribute to Her well-being?

  • In the suburbs, can you compost your kitchen trash?

  • In the City, could you commit to the care of one street tree or turn out for a community "clean the park" day?

  • Can you join (or start) an environmental club or committee in your area, where neighbors work together to protect and heal their own part of Mother Earth?

  • Can you write letters to your legislators in support of strong environmental laws?

  • If you have children, are you giving them opportunities to learn about nature?

  • Above all, are you consistently acting from love and care for the Earth, so your children can learn from your example?
Your personal environmental impact statement belongs in your developmental journal. It's an exercise you should probably repeat every few years, to monitor your own progress. If you're in a group, you may want to try writing up your findings in the form of a chart or diagram and sharing it at a meeting. We can all learn from each others' good ideas.

Remember this: we profess an Earth religion; we should therefore concern ourselves with the well-being of the Earth. A personal environmental impact statement is one tool that can help us focus that concern into practical, immediate action. By understanding Her better, we can serve Her better. By serving Her, we make our love real.

written by: Mevlannen Beshderen and Judy Harrow
updated: July 28, 2000; © 1998, 2000 by the authors in trust for the Wicca
the address of this page is:

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Ethics... Part I

Ethics… Part I

Referring back to a previous article, “Energy Shifts and The Balance”, humanity is definitely experiencing problems at the present time. Ethics, to me, is the area which is being most severely compromised. The resultant “ripple effect” is evident on a planetary scale. Individual ethics are damaged, spreading out to families, local communities, states, countries, continents, the world. It’s almost as if we’ve reverted to an “I, Me, Mine” mentality, the survival of the one, but not necessarily the fittest.

The energy transmitted by people who are concerned only with their own welfare and best interests transmutes into the plant and animal world, and then into the planetary energy fields. Energy follows thought, remember?

Focusing a life path with that particular concept in mind makes me reluctant to pursue bringing attention to what’s going on around us. What energy gets sent to grows and flourishes. I certainly do not want the current events to continue. However, an essential part of being able to make corrections to an event, circumstance or condition is first and foremost identifying all of the combined elements involved. What’s going on? Is this good/positive or bad/negative? What/who does it affect? How does it affect? What can/should be done? How can/should it be done? Is this my personal “stuff” that is making me view this as bad or negative? Is my reaction based on putting my own best interests first, or does it come from a place of wanting what is for the best and highest good of all?

Being a Witch and following a Pagan Spiritual Path has led me over the years to working with area groups and organizations, with my primary goal being helping people to grow and become the best that they can be. Part of that is finding commonality and making connections that foster understanding and promote unity. My personal path is an eclectic one, blending aspects of Wicca, Druidry, Celtic, Native American and Kabbalistic practices.

One of the tenets, possibly the main one, of Wicca is “An’ it harm none, do as ye will”. The modern day ‘translation’ or applied phrase is “For the good of All, and the harm of none.”

Pertaining to Druidry, “Athelia Nihtscada turns to Irish source material to explore Druid ethics. The old Brehon laws, which were recorded by Christian clerics in the 5th century CE, pre-dated Christianity and offer a fascinating insight into early Irish society. By studying these laws and seeing how they might be applicable to modern living, Nihtscada has articulated eleven principles or codes of conduct for the contemporary Druid:

1. Every action has a consequence that must be observed and you must be prepared to compensate for your actions if required.
2. All life is sacred and all are responsible for seeing that this standard is upheld.
3. You do still live in society and are bound by its rules.
4. Work with high standards.
5. Make an honest living.
6. Be a good host as well as a good guest.
7. Take care of yourself. (Health was held in high esteem amongst the Celts, so much that a person could be fined for being grossly overweight due to lack of care.)
8. Serve your community.
9. Maintain a healthy balance of the spiritual and mundane. (Nihtscad writes: ‘Ethical and self respecting Druids did nothing without being properly schooled or aware of the consequences ahead of time. They knew when it was appropriate to visit the Otherworld and immerse themselves in the spiritual as well as when it was appropriate to be fully in this world.’)
10. Uphold the Truth, starting with yourself. 11. Be sure in your convictions, particularly when judging or accusing someone, but also when debating. Ask yourself: are you really sure? Do you really know that this is the case?”
** From The Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids, Ethics and Values in Druidism;amp;name=PagEd&file=index&topic_id=1&page_id=50

Modern Day Native American Spirituality follows for the most part the Christian tenet of The Golden Rule “Do until others as you would have them do unto you”, and hold that all beings (man, animal, plant, earth) are sacred. This appears to be common to at least the Jewish Kabbalistic traditions also.

If you go to, their page on “Shared Belief in the “Golden Rule”: Ethics of Reciprocity”, shows pretty much the same philosophy among the majority of what are considered the “major” world religions.

Now that we’ve reviewed that information, I’ll continue on…

So, in our current world, we have events occurring and circumstances coming into existence which, in view of what is claimed to be held sacred by spiritual traditions (I like that word better than “religions”) around the world, go totally against the “grain”. Warfare, chaos, killing, theft, assault, deceit, the disintegration of families, lying, environmental decimation, the promotion of self above others… all are in direct and undeniable conflict with these tenets. And yet it goes on and on and on.

It has been said “people are people”, and that all of these things are “part of what being human is about”. I’m not seeing much positive there.

From The Virtues Project

Simple Ways to Create a Culture of Character

How many of these are traits or characteristics that really and truly exist within humanity today? I know that there are many people who, on an individual level, strive to be able to claim these attributes as part of their being. (There are, unfortunately, days when it just simply doesn’t work, but not for lack of trying.)

Is this what is happening? No.

I hear a voice saying, “There’s no trying to it. Do it”. If we all could “do” everything we wanted to perfectly, without any missteps, we’d be perfect beings, and there’d be no learning, no growing, no evolving. My perspective here is that trying your best is the goal, give it your best shot, to the best of your ability, with best interests and the highest possible good as the intention and goal.

Again, is this what is happening? No.

To take it down to the simplest level possible, people do not truly care about anyone or anything except themselves.

- Don’t care about the vitality and health of our planet – how much of our existing natural resources can we possible use up and how much damage can we do to our environment so that companies and individual people can make money and get rich? Yes, climate change is real, it’s a fact that it’s happening.

- Don’t care about the vitality and health of individual nations – another country doesn’t “do things” the way we think they should, so we wage war against them to get them to conform to our views, killing innocent people and destroying cultures in the process. Or they have something that we want (oil), so we’ll come up with the best possible excuses, or outright lie about it, for attacking them.

- Don’t care about the people who live within our country – send money and aid all over the world, while our own economy suffers, people lose their jobs and homes, and end up living on the streets, starving. Cut the budget for essential services for the people, and transfer it to the military or into the pockets of big business.

- Don’t care about people in communities – they don’t hold the exact same religious beliefs, they’re not the same color, so they’re wrong and they’re bad. Do as I say, not as I do. Criticize, ostracize, condemn, attack what someone else does because it’s different, without learning the truth about them from them.

- Don’t care about animals – get a pet, then don’t take proper care of it, or just decide that it’s too much of a problem and then dump it out on a street or road somewhere, leaving it to fend for itself or die. Pets are a huge responsibility, regardless of the size. Puppies and kittens and other baby animals are so very cute, but they do grow up!

- Don’t care about families – I’m sorry, but this one is a real tough one for me. Kids acting the way they act these days is the responsibility of no one but the parents. Kids are not taught what is right or wrong, they’re not taught respect, discipline, or proper behavior, and these are family issues that have to be taught at home, not in schools.

- Don’t care about individuals – what can I do to help/promote me; how can I get what I want with a minimal amount of effort; I want what someone else has, so I’ll just take it; someone else is getting all the attention that I want, so I’ll take credit for what they’ve done. Well, I’m all in favor of personal growth, getting a better job, a nicer house, etc. But I will not do something that will intentionally hurt another person. I believe in earning what I get, whether it’s a better job, an education, a nice home, or recognition within my community because I did a good job on my part of a project or event.

Do you see the pattern here? Are you beginning to see where this is going?

To Be Continued…….

Saturday, March 04, 2006

RE": Thriving during Mercury Retrograde

This was written by AmeyaSpirit….. It’s great!!

RE": Thriving during Mercury Retrograde

Today, March 2 - March 25th, Mercury appears to stall and then move backward through the sky. All too often we focus on the negatives of Mercury Retrograde.

In an effort to only focus on what we want to invite to our lives, I have compiled some positives about this phenomenon.
Mercury rules over the processes of the mind, communications and business travel. When it appears retrograde, we enter the "revisit, revise, redo" phase in each of these areas.

Your office.
Your filing.
Your closets.
Your schedule.

A favorite book.
The research for your next project.
Your contracts, your email and letters.
Anything you are writing for editing purposes.

Past conversations that still aren't at rest.
Old projects that you have set aside.
Favorite destinations both in real time and on the astral.
Past projects to see what lessons you have learned.

Anything that needs it.
Friendships (especially if communication is an issue)
Relationships (now is a great time to slow down and reconnect)

Slow down and Recharge your batteries.

Old friendships and acquaintances.
Your commitments.
Your desires.
Your hopes.
Your belief.

Your outlook.

That what you focus on is what you bring to you.
That Mercury Retrograde is a natural flow of energy and if we tune into the energy we can put it to good use.

Research: This for yourself check out these sites: (sorry I couldn't help myself) http:://

Copyright:2006 Ameya Spirit
**posted with permission

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

IONS Monthly Intention

IONS Monthly Intention
March 2006

March Inspiration: This month we move into spring, a perfect time to focus on the potential of new beginnings. Every year at this time, we have the opportunity to let nature remind us of the power and beauty of new life after a winter of fiercer weather. In a similar way, each month, on the first of the month, we have the opportunity to begin afresh and align our intentions with our highest personal and collective good. Indeed, every moment is an opportunity for a new beginning in which we lift our consciousness and embrace the beauty of the moment. We encourage you to practice fresh beginnings this month, so you infuse your every waking moment with the possibility of living without limiting beliefs and preconceived filters. As we approach each moment with openness, great power and joy can be liberated.
March Question for Reflection:
What area of your life could benefit most from a fresh start?
What if the circumstances surrounding that area could be seen with eyes that see challenges or barriers as opportunities?

IONS monthly intentions for a global shift in consciousness*
Picture the world as it is today, knowing that I am a part of this planet's evolutionary design.
I choose to live to my fullest capacity in a spirit of openness, intellectual integrity, and freedom.*
I am conscious that I have a role in the unfolding story of humanity. I am connected to the whole. My intentions find a deep resonance in the hearts and minds of others.*
Together, we stir the depths of human ingenuity, creativity, and collective healing.
Together, we are part of an evolutionary pulse bringing into focus our collective responsibility for planet Earth and its diverse peoples.*
My intention is to be in a place of wisdom, compassion, and abiding exuberance for serving our common work and the greater good.

Institute of Noetic Sciences