You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘gratitude’ tag.

As I wrote the date I shivered. We’re getting close to tax time! *eek!*

It’s spring. We just weathered a lovely and powerful deluge in Los Angeles. It was cold enough that at some points it was as if there was snow in the air. I kid you not. Fluffy white flakes fluttering around our third story aerie. Touching the glass and melting. It lasted for all of 10 minutes, mixed in with the rain you wouldn’t even have known it was there unless you were watching closely as it fluttered and then vanished on the window.

Aligned with the Vernal energies, it’s the natural way, I’m feeling the cleaning bug. Every corner of the home looks like it needs a magickal hand, a witches broom, a wash of lemon and cedar. Shelves look cluttered. Books seem dusty. I like dusty old books. Maybe I’ll leave them alone.

Look at the needs to clean and organize on a few levels. Physically clean and organize, if you haven’t already. Get papers, files, and aisles of things in order. As we work on one level we can also cleanse and organize on another. It reminds me of my mother, organizing her thoughts and her day while in the process of cleaning. I do the same thing, it’s a moving meditation.

There are some details that I think deserve looking into like taking an idea that you’ve mulled over and finding a means to make it happen.

Tarot Weekly

Have a little faith and trust in the process. We’re entering a new phase and doubt, melodrama, acting out doubts or hesitations where we are uncertain about our path or process aren’t going to do anything but make a scene or draw attention to yourself.

You may not feel appreciated by those around you, at least in regards to those you might immediately share your “exciting new idea.” Keep it close to the heart. The path is calling. The draw to move into a new direction, or begin a new project is felt, but just not yet. Test the waters, refine your thoughts, mull over a cup of tea and have a little faith.

Be innocent with yourself.

There are some hidden energies at work… or we might say unforseen forces or “the things that are happening just beyond our sphere” that affect us.

We can’t see all things. We can’t know all that will happen. These cards remain hidden but the message: little death, or minor ending and beginning. Watch your finances and specifically how much is going out of the pocket into the hands of others.

You could probably benefit with a little Journey Work, and exploration of things unseen to suss out what is draining you of vital energies. Diet. Friend. Situation. Identify where your energies may be leaking, or being leached, away.

Use your resources to shore up what you have. Give some thanks for the fact that we have our home, our jobs, life, friends, and health unlike many people in the world today. Getting a bigger perspective and wait for the right connections to come into play and until then celebrate your good fortunes with loved ones, family, and friends.

Find harmony in all of your elements.

Be well,

– –

Scott K Smith
http://lifencompass.com
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Well I did it. Didn’t I? I made my own deadline and for that I give myself a pat on the back. Here’s my diddy. FYI there is a bit of what the chapter is about and a lot of my opinion here. So…

I read through the introduction and the first chapter of Awakening to the Spirit World: What is Shamanism?

After some discussion on earlier entries here at Lifencompass, I found that much of the tit-for-tat on defining a shaman in earlier posts, addressed in the first chapter of the book, namely the origin of the Shaman, the comparable practice of native/cultural “Shamans”, and the modern amalgamation of earth based practices from tribal cultures; where those who have gone before and the authors derive the Modern Shamanic Movement.

“The word ‘Shaman’ comes from the language of the Evenki peoples, a Tungusic tribe in Siberia. This is a word whose meaning has to do with esoteric knowledge and extraordinary spiritual abilities and as such a Shaman is often defined as an intermediary between the human and the spirit worlds. In shamanic cultures,* the word ‘Shaman’ has come to mean ‘the one who sees in the dark’ or ‘the one who knows.”

The research from the various voices of the book comes from “fieldwork done among tribal peoples of Siberia, Asia, Africa, Australia, Greenland, from North, Central, and South America.” The authors draw commonalities in the practices of people who work with spirits. That said, the book is not a how to become a Shaman book, as Sandra Ingerman writes, the Shaman is chosen. It is however a guide to integrating the common practices into your (the readers) life. Sandra Ingerman along with Hank Wesselman, weave together practices and voices from various contributors including: Tom CowanCarol Proudfoot -EdgarJose Luis Stevens, PhD, and Alberto Villoldo, PhD.

In addition to a discussion on visionaries, and the Shadow Side of Shamanism where we read about the uncommon values of practicing native medicine peoples. Those that seek power over others, those that seek gain, and finally those that serve the people. A guideposts of sorts directing the reader towards a self-less path of service versus monetary gain or dominion. Expanded states of awareness, the “technology” of the mystical path and where the tools are derived from lead us to the chapter’s end: Gratitude, Seeing, and Blessing.

I know a few  traditional teachers of Native Ancestry. I’ve had the privilege of meeting and listening to Kachinas Kutenia on several occasions, through Maria Yraceburu, a wonderful friend, spiritual functionary, and teacher. One of the things that Kachinas Kutenia said stuck with me and set me on a path of discovery, “before you learn my native ancestry, you should learn your own” and I, being a mutt in many senses I couldn’t pick a path based on that guidance chose many.

I’ve got a point. You know I do.

So I’m Italian, French, English, Haudenosaunee (Iriquios), possibly Irish and potentially Austrian, or more Italian, depending on who you ask. I’m half a mind to send in some of me and do the genetic tracing to see what exactly our ethnicity is, where we came from ultimately but that’s another story… If I were to pick a culture I’d have to say European with some First Peoples of North America. “European” as a descriptive is kind of generalized, there are many diverse people, and a lot of culture packed in there… history, and many tribal cultures with shared and  diverse practices.  For me to “learn my ancestry” in a tribal sense I have to go way back: pre-war, pre-church, back to Picts, and Gaul, Celtic, and possibly Scandinavian roots. And I suspect my family has been “mixed” for a long time, like many of us with European ancestry.

So what is my tribal culture? Who were my Shamans?

Eventually I turned to Witchcraft as a practice and Wicca when I was younger. I then read Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism. I followed a path into meditation, mixed and match various dogmatic and mystical approaches, and at some point I just said to myself, the real way is within. I have no one single tribe. I don’t know that I actually have any tribe to be honest. I’m “eclectic”, meaning I’ve found threads of what works and used them, combining my experience into what I do versus identifying with one way. Maybe I’m part of the Universal Tribe. 🙂

The conundrum at the time became owning my tribal culture because I’d have to smack myself if Capitalism and a two-party  government was my tribal identity!

No I didn’t really root in “gay” culture, or “alternative” culture, or even “drug” culture. It’s not that I haven’t had my connections to them but again, they weren’t me. They were phases of discovery, where I found more roots that lead deeper into me. In short, I couldn’t find my ancestral / tribal culture unless I went way back to early peoples. From this vantage point and moving forward I could, like these authors here in Awakening to the Spirit World, begin to thread together links, bridges, similarities.I get that this is my journey, my way of resetting myself and I’m grateful that I had so many diverse elders with me as I learned, grew and found parts of my long lost self.

Remembering me, this then is who I am, a threaded being. I who is woven of many practices, loomed together into a clashing tapestry of me.

In many sense that is what appeals to me about Awakening to the Spirit World. It isn’t one culture. It isn’t one practice from one specific peoples, to be done is such a way, at a certain time, when the stars are aligned just so. Pan-primeval spiritual practices brought forward with a message for those, I think, that need it the most: Fast food spiritual peoples, aka those that need to find a way within themselves. It’s not a judgement. I mean, if we need to be more aware of the planet and our place on it environmentally, psychologically, emotionally, and maybe even “spiritually” we need to turn to our earth based ways, but if we don’t have one. If we are tribe-less, or even, native confused, where do we go? Like me, we ask ourselves the question, who do we turn to?

The answer should be, someone who turns me inward towards myself, and through learning myself what the world is and all things that populate it, but that isn’t always the case now is it?

And why do we need to be so earthy-connected? I believe it is because we are natural beings. Whether you want to think we came from space or another dimension, I’m not contesting anything but the fact that we are here now on this planet and to it we should be connected. We live here. We love here. We war, have sex, eat, give birth, and die here (not necessarily in that order but note that the death is our shared exit and one way or another you pass through that doorway).

I believe that through our actions, what we eat, where we get our food from, what we buy, who we buy it from, how we interact with each other and the planet are all telling signs of the vast disconnect that our species is suffering from. Not a disconnect from God in some bearded Yahweh, or any other deity, but from Gods, the enriching flavors of life only found with connection, naturally, to the world and all things of it.

An animistic invocation of the spirit of life, of all things, is necessary for our own self. I’m not saying in any specific way except finding life in your own life and connecting to it. Your plants, what you purchase, what you eat, you who love, and the complete strangers in your life; finding the bonding, intimate, flow of life that we modern people just tend to dismiss. Or when we do listen there is the dread that we will be dammed, or condemned… fearing that we can’t be our truly magickal selves because of who we love, or fear, or respect, and what they might think.

But if they love us, and we love them, then shouldn’t there be acceptance?

What happens if we get over griping about how ridiculous someone is about their choice to be conscious beings every day and instead spent that wasted energy on undermining a friends growth, we tried to be just as conscious in our little every day lives? When we clean, cook, talk, have sex, watch television, play games or just veg?

What Scott? What are you saying?!

We have a relationship with everything we interact with and a responsibility to be mindful of it.

Which brings me to the first three practices of the book, and why they are so important: Gratitude. Seeing. Blessing.

The Path of Shamanism Today

“At one time, the way of the Shaman was practiced exclusively by hunters and gatherers in order to find food and other resources for their tribal bands. They accomplished this by achieving an expanded state of awareness in which they could connect with the spirits of the animals that they needed to kill for meat and hides. Connecting with the spirits was about correct protocol – about getting permission to – and this always fell within the realm of the Shaman. In traditional cultures, they were often just a few people in the community who were able to step into the role of the Shaman to ask the transpersonal forces with whom they were in relationship for sustenance, support, guidance, and healing on behalf of others.”

The authors then speak of the Tools of the Visionary.

Gratitude

Coming from a place of thanks giving can be a glass-half-full mindset, but I think it works. We pave our path. If we come from a place of hunger, fear, and pain, we are hungry, fearful, and pained. When we practice gratitude we are correcting our point of view, getting in line with our inter-connectedness to all things. Opening our hearts.

The heart is the seat of alchemy, where we take in and give out through voice and touch along the avenue of our throat and our arms and hands. This then is the doing place because what we speak and hear and what we take in and then send out is corrective to our living environments.

It takes practice, I know, I need to practice as well, but practice isn’t not-doing. Practice is a meditation in doing where we are no longer rigid, we enter a posture of active participation. We never stop practicing because it isn’t trying it is a continual movement and if our hearts are in the right place the practicing becomes the method.

Seeing

My friend Astrid once said, “The Seer is not afraid to see”. She was also found of the Blessing Way, healing, creation, harmony, and peace.

To practice gratitude we must be able to see who and what we are interacting with, without letting our psyche in the way. Rather we are directing our mind to perform in the  most compassionate way by interacting in a flexible approach. Leading our minds instead of our minds leading us. If we reject what we see because we fear, hate, disagree with it, we are no longer the seer. I’m not saying you can’t disagree, I am suggesting that you should learn to see the world regardless of your opinion.

When we observe from our opinion, rather then through our opinion we color the experience. We are no longer actively interacting with life. I believe we are then interacting with ourselves. This is not compassionate action. In order to give blessing, the next “tool”, we first must be able to set aside our opinion in order to serve in the correct way. A hallmark of the modern mystic, to give without taking. This is the way I believe the highest natural human calling is accomplished.

It’s the place where I feel the best when I do what I do. 🙂

Blessing

To bless we need no more than our own divinity, which is our grateful spirit. We do not need gods or beings, which are avatars of greater values, movements, luminous aspects of universal powers, mythical power brought to life within us. We can call up on that connection to facilitate the blessing state but it isn’t necessary.

And blessings, what sort of blessings are we passing into the skin, the food, the family?

Within the realm of all that’s been said, I think what we are blessing with is the spirit of Life. The Life Force Energy. An uplifting of the living spirit shared with all things. The power that connects us in love, at supper, over wine. When we bless with this grace, a sentiment of gratitude, we are empowering the spirit that infuses all things.

Being grateful, seeing and so interacting with all our connections, and completing the circle of these living tools by providing a heart-felt thank you. This provides the blessing that is needed each day.

********

I’ve spent the longer parts of the last two days attempting to finish this post. In that time I have been “interrupted” many times over. In those breaks I found the demonstration of the above listed “tools”.

To be present, to show my thanks, and to give back by letting go of my drive to press all this to the Journey, and write a post.

I’m moving on to chapter two, The Shamanic Journey, which will be posted next Tuesday. I hope you will continue along with me in  my chapter-by-chapter review of Awakening to the Spirit World, the Shamanic Path of Direct Revelation.

I hope this finds you well.


– – –
Be well,

Scott K Smith
http://lifencompass.com

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Welcome back!

It’s supposed to be 94 in Los Angeles today. Well when I started writing this it was to be, now it is. I just thought I’d let you New Englander’s and other cold weather people know that it’s a hot beginning to fall over here. Also know that I’ll be jealous of your color-changing leaves and imagining the smell of rain and earth cooling as we turn to winter in the Northern Hemisphere. Seriously, there are season’s here in Los Angeles but let’s face it, we’ve irrigated a pretty inhospitable place and made a city. Wasn’t it the Native People who called it the valley of smoke?

Angelino’s, yes we can still have Yule (or Christmas) at the beach, or at a roof top pool in Downtown LA like B and me did a few years back. It’s just warm and sunny while our friends in Main are under 3 feet of snow. Kind of like that image that Corona gave us last year, Christmas on the beach.

I am a fire sign, I love the sun and I do enjoy the warmth. Well that’s not completely true, I’m on a cusp I’m also virgo and as soon as the equinox comes I turn coat on the summer months and crave the rain, falling leaves and the smell of loamy earth. I don’t mind the lovely weather 90% of the year, I just get to a point around this time when I think, “Enough is enough already. Give me some rain!”

An all the people go boo! You have your reasons. It’s ok to be jealous but…

Tree in Fall

I want Raven’s, and pumpkins, rain and storms, darkened sky’s and layers of favorite clothing, scarves, hats and boots… I don’t care what anyone says if you are in a sweater -read “shear little thing you buy at H&M that couldn’t keep a hairless cat warm”- and flip-flops, my first reaction is to smack you. Well not really but you get my point. No matter how we dress it up, I hardly think its really Fall or Winter, compared to places where the change is so stark.

OK. OK! Enough!

For me it’s not really about the long winded gripe for cooler weather, fingers crossed in hopes that we get another winter like we had in 2004 or 5, no it is the sudden and season shift that leads us into a descent. The sun dips further and further and the time comes for us to count gifts, pull harvest or at least mentally re-cap before we move into a definitvely busier time of year.

I’m not a farmer, I don’t live where the change is as tangible but internally I feel the need for ancient deeds. Plant and gather. For me it is images and ideas.

So the holiday’s come. We are reminded of everything from food and family to gifts and costume. In a short three months we blow through our savings, cook for 40, and still manage to work, care and hope for some rest. Seems like these so called holiday’s are more of a chore than anything else.

They can SEEM that way and I don’t even have that large of a family or even children of my own. Can you tell who wears the apron at  my house? O.o

To change To enter into this time of giving, properly, is to come from a place of thanks giving. We head towards a feast of the dead, Samhain / Day of the Dead / All Saint’s Day. We quickly fall into harvest with Thanks Giving, and then the next thing we know it is the Holiday of giving. Top that with New Years events and I don’t even have to begin to guess at where “Holiday Stress” comes from.

When we come from a giving place there is no loss. There is nothing that is being taken from us because we are abundant because when we give we receive. Selflessness… isn’t that the point of a sacrificial deity? Giving selflessly through the mythological ideal?

Autumn, the Equinox is time to fill your cornucopia with the mental, emotional and spiritual gifts of our lives for the coming months.  With three significant passages we can pull together the fabric of our lives and lay it out in such a way that we are gathering like a blanket at Pow-Wow. Mmm I can hear the Mother Drum already. 🙂

First things first. Today or in the next week take stock of what you have, what you are grateful for AND what you want to accomplish in the next season -holidays or no, they still effect you because they affect the people and society around you. What brought you joy at this time of year? What did you do in the past to celebrate it? What would you like to do this year? How will you accomplish that?

Set both monetary and mental budgets. Planning something out reserves some of our own mental and emotional charge for necessary things such as down time, caring for loved ones and ourselves.

Look at the big events coming, specifically three, possibly five high tides.

  1. Halloween / Samhain / Feast of the Dead
    • This is when we remember those who have gone before us, share stories of their lives, cook their food, find their scents and build the flame of that love and joy in memory, in our heart, so that our spirits continue with us. The veil is thin, show your love.
  2. Thanks Giving
    • In celebration of Harvest, of a sorts, this is sort of a national Harvest Festival isn’t it? Similar to old Autumn Fire Festivals but over in November. Regardless, this is about the bounty of the earth and our families. Yep. A celebration of coming together around food with friends, family and neighbors. Another time to give, as we give so we receive. Again we “give thanks”.
  3. Yule / Christmas / Hanukkah / Festival and Celebrations of Light.
    • Not so hard to understand this is the sun returning to the earth. At winter solstice it is lowest in the Northern Hemisphere. As ancients we would have celebrated the triumph of light over darkness, the resurrection of the Sun God, finding the light within. This is a celebration of togetherness, hope, love, family, friends, and giving again.

New Years….

  • Please just party safe. Make your new goals. Enjoy the turning of the wheel.  🙂

Keep in mind your stores of energy that you have built up, your batteries, your sources of charge. How do you re-couperate mentally? How do you take a “mental vacation” is there a way to keep you alert and focused on the present? Does meditation work for you or do you jog to keep grounded and centered.

How about your emotional springs, who are your hidden gems that you turn to in your circles of friends and families, how can you collaborate? How have you thanked them?

We can gather our “spiritual” energy through all of the various traditions and celebrations at this time but I also think, with all the activity that happens at this time that we can become a bit depleted. This energy is a culmination of all of our other energies. Four elements make the fifth so when our Body, Mind, Emotions and Passions are in harmony, peaking, we generate true spiritual rejuvenation.

Keeping life in balance, caring for the body we create that harmony and feeling of connection to all things. Eat well, exercise and take care so you are not then running to the gym from January through to summer!

My reminder this Equinox is to find gratitude and seek balance. Libra comes into the spotlight, now is the time to be the ambassador to all aspects of yourself and forge an alliance. Keep a level head, celebrate living and giving, prepare for our festivals and enjoy the comforts of intimacy with your loved ones and yourself.

Move into the next three months level, prepared and from the giving place.

Be well friends,
Scott K Smith
Lifencompass.org

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(Hestia, above, goddess of the hearth and home. A deity of thanksgiving, of the house and home. She is represented by the Hearth, the Calf and really at any feast for this is her domain… later she is representative of the fecundity of the earth).

“Saying thank you is more than good manners. It is good spirituality.”

~ Alfred Painter

Here it is again, the day of days for family meals in most of North America.  Although Thanksgiving is a somewhat of a contested national holiday because it marks our colonization of the land and the beginning of our conquest. Some say it is the destruction of thousands of birds, the Turkey, the big bird of the feast, and that it is a day of murder. As it was, so it is.  Yet we celebrate. We feast, we come together.

Sure we can get down and dumpy about the holidays, we can get all wound up over family tension or what is or is not said. We can wish we had our favorite rolls, our that we could be somewhere else but you are not there you are here, where you are, so be in the now with a grateful spirit for what you have. This is gratitude. This is Thanksgiving.

But in an age and culture where spirituality and invisible but tangible dimensions of experience like gratitude, compassion and energy / love are reduced to commodities of power or dismissed as fantasy, isn’t it our job to culture these holidays as allowances for freedom to express our unique spiritual connection to all things.

Instead of fighting against the day, the holidays and rather then getting caught up in your seasonal shift and become the harbinger of the storm, why not find the reason to celebrate?

We are in the harvest season and we are moving towards one of the oldest celebrated festivals of all, the Winter Solstice. At this time we give thanksfor what we have, for what we love and for who we are with. We celebrate our food, our great aunt’s pies, or mothers coco, our lovers mash and focus on the generosity of spirit, light and love. These are the warm flames that burn within us as we move through the northern hemisphere’s winter.

“Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.”

~Budda

As above, so below, we enter winter in the world around us and in the world within us. Our nature reflects the worlds elemental fecundity, stark cold or verdant greens into summer months of golden light. We are connected to the natural world, to this planet, intrinsically woven, seamlessly, at one withGaia. The mother. Goddess. World.

When we enter into the Place of Gratitude we are entering into the love that is present universally and honoring the gift of creation by giving backthrough Thanksgiving. In effect you are increasing the level and vibration of the worlds love and light, strengthening the natural rhythm in yourself and the soul of the planet. This is walking in harmony, this is the Path of Beauty, this is your calling at this time.

So when you prepare your food, when you dress your table and your lovely body give thanks. Give thanks for your clothing, what you are eating, and who you are with even if it is just a house plant, your four legged family member Micha the goldfish, or your friends. Give thanks to what and who produced it. For every hand that touched the apples in your stuffing, from the grapevine to your table.

Show gratitude for the land that provided us with sustenance. Give and you become the conduit for that energy, that love, that grace and thanksgiving.

You are the hand that shapes. You are the source of the feeling. You are part of creation and can find harmony with life, to be here, now and in the moment with all things and find the center and secret that brings joy. Express it for in the just a moment behind the clutter of the mind, when we find the real existence, we strengthen the greater consciousness of love and the expanding vibration of harmony and natural well being.

With my love,

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