Friday, May 12, 2017

Selkie Magic

Freckles and friend
Since 1993 when I first read Women Who Run with the Wolves (Clarissa Pinkola Estes, PhD) and the story "Sealskin, Soulskin", I have been deeply connected to the Celtic stories about Selkies, seals that live in the sea and shed their skin to become human on land during the full moon each month. Stories about these mystical beings are prevalent in the mythology of cultures throughout the world.

Nine months ago I came upon a pod of harbor seals that live here in Laguna Beach, hauling out on the rocks each day to rest. I have been captivated by these magnificent creatures ever since. I find myself looking forward to low tide and the opportunity to sit near my friends. When I am lucky enough to find them, I sit quietly, observing their peaceful presence and allowing myself to be fully present in my own life. When they are hauled out, the harbor seals remind me to recognize whether or not I am grounded. But when I observe them in the water, I am inspired to be playful and find the joy of simply being alive, to be grateful and to recognize the abundant blessings in my life. 

In Celtic mythology seals have a strong and special connection with the human race. Some families are said to be descended from the union of humans and seals. There are also stories about seals helping humans and it is believed that good luck follows those who help seals. 

Olaf
In alchemical writings and shamanic traditions, animal symbols give insight into spiritual wisdom. These animals may appear in dreams or in real life. The important point is to consider the deeper meaning. When I sit with the harbor seals, I observe their behavior and consider what message, or omen,  they offer.

According to Ted Andrew's book, Animal Speaks, seals are associated with beings of the Faerie realm in legend and lore. They are Water Spirits who take the form of gray seals and come on shore at night and shed their seal skins, walking and dancing in the moonlight as men and women. 

One esoteric perspective about the seals is that they teach us how to develop and focus the imagination. They can also teach us how to be grounded. Although their home is in the water, pinnipeds need to haul out  on land between seven and twelve hours daily to rest and regulate their body temperature. Seals ask us to reflect upon our state of balance, within and without. Is your imagination taking you out of your body and leaving you ungrounded? Are you listening to your inner voice or are you being influenced by what others believe is important for you?

The shifts that so many of us are currently experiencing are taking us to the core of our fears and even asking us to reevaluate where and how we live. When we find ourselves caught up in the instability around us, we must find our inner equilibrium. It is during the challenging situations that the invitation to apply the lessons learned appears. When we can trust Divine Love and willingly plunge into the inner realms, we will find ourselves popping up to the surface with new insights and creativity. It is through this ability to shift our perspective and maintain our balance that we create stability.

The seals invite us to connect with our creative life force. They inspire us to be present and grounded while allowing a balance of play and joy into life. They invite us to check our state of being, to rest and regroup, find our equilibrium, and wait for the current to shift and a resolution to present itself.

Thank you my Selkie friends. May we continue to seek balance in our lives while we gratefully  recognize the joy of being alive!

Blessings of peace, love and light,
Gretchen

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Love and Compassion


The last few months have been marked by the collective shadow manifested through fear, xenophobia, inequality, lack of protection of the environment, and the absence of understanding for differing viewpoints and lifestyles. The anger and fear are apparent on both sides, both conservative and liberal. The shadow is BIG!

So how do we find our personal and collective center? How do we manifest the feminine principal of collaboration and compromise? There is no quick fix. There is no simple answer or one way for resolution. There is no room for a narcissistic perspective. However we must find a way to bring us through the shadow and into the light of the new age that spiritual leaders and mystics have predicted.

In order for this to happen, each of us must do our own deep work. We cannot lay blame on another person or system. We must ask our self what personal action is appropriate. Some will be called to peaceful demonstration and activism. Others will become prayer warriors, mentors and teachers. But all spiritual actions and solutions come from a commitment to peace. And therein lies the challenge! When we are confronted daily with the elimination of agencies that have protected groups of people and Mother Earth, how do we stay centered? How do we maintain a peaceful heart?

My Ancestors tell me to do my own work. When the shadow arises within it has many faces but I must look in the mirror and see the reflection. What limiting belief is ready to be released now? And how can I release it?

Meditation. Ritual. Prayer. Surrender. I am always guided to these solutions and reminded that this is a path humankind has walked since the beginning of time. Each cycle has a different face but the same issues are always beneath the surface. For humanity to evolve, change and surrender is required. This comes through personal and collective experiences that bring us to our knees, seeking divine guidance.

We are at a crossroad and it is essential that we seek spiritual wisdom. This comes in many forms…there is no one correct pathway. All paths to enlightenment are correct and it is essential that we support one another on that journey.

I’ve been reading The Book of Joy by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu with Douglas Abrams. These two spiritual leaders explore the nature of true joy and confront the obstacles to joy – fear, stress, anger, grief, illness, and death. Their simple yet profound wisdom brings a new sense of hope to the reader. We are responsible for our reactions to our challenges and experiences. Our reactions and beliefs create the world we live in. Now is the time to become both introspective and reactive, finding our soul’s pathway to peace making.

The Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu explain why they felt it was so important to write The Book of Joy at this time. The Dalai Lama shares:
“I think the only way really is, as we have said, through education. Education is universal. We must teach people, especially our youth, the source of happiness and satisfaction. We must teach them that the ultimate source of happiness is within themselves. Not machine. Not technology. Not money. Not power.” (page 297)
And Archbishop Tutu adds:
“Dear Child of God, you are loved with a love that nothing can shake, a love that loved you long before you were created, a love that will be there long after everything has disapperared. You are precious, with a preciousness that is totally quite immeasurable. And God wants you to be like God. Filled with life and goodness and laughter – and joy.” (page 298)
The book concludes with the Eight Pillars of Joy: Perspective, Humility, Humor, Acceptance, Forgiveness, Gratitude, Compassion, and Generosity. May each of us consider these aspects of joy and begin to reframe our fearful thinking, opening to embodying them within and without. May we become the change we wish to see in the world!







Sunday, September 4, 2016

Open Heart to Kindness


 "When you lend a hand, you open a way for your heart to touch the heart of everything. This is a wealth that only grows. While those we help may leave or die or simply grow into their own beauty and be loved by others, the closeness uncovered by kindness turns to light in the body, until the closeness generated by kindness makes a lamp of the heart." ~ by Mark Nepo, Seven Thousand Ways to Listen

This is a profound reflection of what is true about relationships and how the Divine can work within and without to create peace and harmony. Isn’t that the purpose of life? We never know what we are learning in the midst of giving or receiving kindness but when we step back and reflect, we are changed. 

I have been blessed to be the recipient of great kindness from others. Nurturing the friendships that I have developed over my lifetime has provided so many blessings! Long ago I recognized that tending to relationships with those who also value kindness resulted in trusted friends who I can process and grow with. There are times to give and times to receive. The key is an open heart and a willingness to take risks with your heart.

I want to open my heart to kindness. I want to give kindness freely and receive it equally! I want to experience joy and love and laughter with people I cherish. I count myself lucky to have so many kind and loving friends who value my presence and whose presence I am continually enriched by. Each friend is a unique flower in my garden I am so grateful!

May each of our hearts find others to open our hearts to "until the closeness generated by kindness makes a lamp of the heart".  

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Another Crossroad

Another crossroads is beginning to take form ahead of me. There’s no rush but I can feel the energy shifting and recognize the mix of fear and excitement within. I’ve been here many times over the last 66 years and some crossroads have brought tears and immense grief while others have manifested profound joy and fulfillment. All have led to evolution and transformation.

How often do I coach others in releasing their fears during a critical point in their life? How often do I encourage them to see the beauty in the transformational process of spiritual alchemy that leads them to a powerful transformational turning point in their life? How often do I ask them to allow the magic of Divine intervention to move fully into their situation and let go of outcomes? Daily!

Crossroads: a crisis situation or point in time when a critical decision must be made; critical point, juncture, convergence, intersection, overlap

So it seems that I am being reminded that life, especially a spiritual life, is not stagnant. Life is a living, evolving process and each crossroad brings the invitation to expand and grow! It is never about going back. Something bigger and better is calling us forward but we must accept the invitation. 

Change is peeping over the horizon with an invitation to consider what is waiting to be dreamed into being in my life. There is no certainty about the outcome. There are infinite possibilities ahead. All that is required of me is to open to new ideas and possibilities for personal and collective growth. As my work expands, so must I. My soul is calling me to consider new dreams. I choose to embrace the alchemical process of transformation and evolution that has guided me for all these many years. I choose to allow this process of change and expansion that is only an embryo within now - I choose to let it root and grow.

What crossroad is inviting you to expand? What adventure is beginning to take form in your life? How will you meet this challenge? Will you move forward, allowing a new dream to manifest in your heart? Or will you hide out of fear of the change that is calling you?

Be fearless! Embrace new possibilities! Grieve what is leaving and then allow the alchemy of transformation that comes when we receive the challenge! It is what we become that changes the world and each invitation to grow and evolve is not only a healing for our own soul but for the soul of our beautiful planet too!

Blessings of peace, love and light,
Gretchen

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Honoring Our Journey

The days grow shorter. The Thanksgiving feast is now a memory and my thoughts turn to the rest of the holiday season. The temperature has dropped and today I'm sitting at my computer wearing sweats listening to Christmas music while I enjoy the sound of rain on the patio. Bentley, my feline companion, has made himself comfortable on his favorite chair and we are both appreciating a quiet rainy day.

This is a festive time of year filled with celebrations, shopping, and family gatherings. But it is also the time of year to reflect on the lessons learned, honoring areas of inner growth and expansion. The soul's journey requires tending. 

It is also a time of reflecting on the relationships in life and how we nurture them. Relationships, like our physical and spiritual well-being, need to be tended. What needs to be released and what needs to be nourished? What changes do I want to make and what is working well?

As we move from late fall to winter it is important to note that winter is the final phase of the twelve-month cycle of Earth’s seasons. Like all cycles, winter holds evidence and clues within it about what came before, what is and what will likely be. The energy of winter is an ending and a new beginning. There is increasing darkness, the darkest point and then the shift toward increasing light.

At this time of year I look to nature to show me her rhythm, her way of "being." She is quiet. Her leaves cover the ground, decomposing. During the process of decomposition, the decomposers provide food for themselves by extracting chemicals from organic wastes to produce energy. The decomposers will then produce waste of their own. In turn, this will also decompose, eventually returning nutrients to the soil. These nutrients can then be taken up by the roots of living plants enabling them to grow and develop, so that organic material is naturally recycled. Virtually nothing goes to waste in nature.

During this season of quiet reflection and review, I encourage each of you to recycle your energies. Renew, refresh, and envision the richness of your journey to date and the possibility that lies before you. This is the season we are invited to go within and honor our personal journey. In the darkness of winter, may we find our own light. May we shine and, collectively, may we brighten the world.

Happy Holidays!
Gretchen