Friday, December 19, 2014

Inner Reflection

The days grow shorter. The temperature has dropped and today I'm sitting at my computer wearing sweats with a cozy wrap around my shoulders and a cup of steaming tea beside me. The Winter Solstice is just a few days away and the holiday season is in full swing with parties and celebrations everywhere.

This is a festive time of year but it is also the time of year to reflect on the previous months of experiences and lessons, honoring areas of growth and expansion. The soul's journey requires tending. My past experiences have provided opportunities for learning and my life is enriched because of these life-lessons. 

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. 

I love to search for quotes that inspire. May these quotes help invoke that spirit within.  
In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.

~Albert Camus 
One is wise to cultivate the tree that bears fruit in our soul.

~Henry David Thoreau 
We are each gifted in a unique and important way. It is our privilege and our adventure to discover our own special light.

~Mary Dunbar
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!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Dreaming a New Dream for the World

I am often confused about the roles of men and women in today's culture and what balance between the sexes would look like within "modern" society. What does it look like for women to reclaim their power and what is the role of men in this quest? Equally, what does it look like for men to reclaim their power and what is the role of women in this quest? It's not about one becoming dominant over the other. How do we find the inner equilibrium that is necessary for us to reflect that out in the world? Each individual carries both within and it is time that we discover what this means, personally. Then, and only then, will there be true equality and peace.

As a grandmother of eight boys and two girls, I believe the Divine is offering me an opportunity to journey deeply into this quest. As I watch these little ones grow, I am constantly aware of the world they are growing up in and the choices they will one day make that will effect the world. Along the way they will have many lessons that will assist them in becoming adults and they too will have to choose to find balance within and without. 

Life has provided each of us with woundings that surface from time to time and we are triggered into questioning our self-worth. This is a natural phenomena and simply provides the opening to look at our soul's truth more deeply. 

I have been reading a book by Hank Wessleman, The Bowl of Light: Ancestral Wisdom from a Hawaiian Shaman. Dr. Wesselman shares the wisdom of the late Hale Kealohalani Makua, one of Hawaii's greatest ancestral leaders and shamans. There is much wisdom in the book but I am particularly struck by Makua's discussion about the power of women and men in co-creating a new world. He says,
"It is time for all the women to come together to generate a new vision. They must dream a new dream -- a new vision that must be about what they want for their grandchildren and for the next seven generations. Women [the feminine] are the keepers of the culture, the family, the home, as well as the foundation of the world. The lesson is that the women have to teach the men is how to be gentle. 
It's the women who are going to change the world now, and so the men have to protect them...The men need to follow the women for a change, because in doing so, men will become more selective. It's about discrimination, about learning discernment.

This is Mother Earth. It is not Father Earth. The energy of the Earth is feminine...and the lesson for the men is about gentleness. The job of women is to teach the men how to be gentle. So it's time for the men to sit down and listen, and it is time for the women to stand up and speak. It's the women who are going to change the world now, and so the men have to protect them." (pg. 142-143)
In other words, this is a time of authentic and unconditional reciprocity where both men and women find their own inner balance, their own gentleness, and then extend support to each other and to Mother Earth. The change begins within, establishing personal balance and harmony, and then we can become part of the new dreaming for our beautiful planet. When we are in this state of love we reflect that out into the world and things shift. 

In a recent dream I was with other women preparing for a sacred ritual. We were bathed and perfumed and dressed in white linen. Bouquets of flowers were given to each one of us as we lined up to begin the procession. In a solemn line, with musicians playing, we walked out into Nature. There was a sacred river that we had to cross and then a fire circle on the other side. As I approached the water I felt a sense of freedom in knowing that this part of the ritual would purify and heal each of us as we prepared for the sacred work ahead. The water wasn't deep and felt refreshing as I stepped into it and across.

On the other side, the women ahead of me had begun to create a circle around the fire and were singing so I joined them. I closed my eyes and connected to Source. I felt grounded deeply into Mother Earth while the Divine filled me and expanded outward from my heart chakra. I sensed all the other women in the circle doing the same. It was clear that our power did not come from any action that we might take but in being connected to Divine Love and Oneness. This is what we were to take out into the world. 

My dream for our world is that each of us would become connected to our inner divinity, that part within each of us that is a direct reflection of the Divine. We must all honor Mother Earth and take care of her. We must all learn to be gentle with her and the beings we share life with. She is calling each of us, both male and female, to dream a gentler world into being. 

It can be challenging to move out of our woundings and into a place of equilibrium but the gift is that we see the truth about life - it is a joy and a daily gift to be here. It is the responsibility of each of us, both male and female, to protect Mother Earth and one another. Then and only then will we see the divinity within each other and then consciously co-create a new world.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Power of Forgiveness

“The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.”
(Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience) 

It can be challenging to forgive others but what about forgiving one's self? Although it is important to say "I'm sorry" to another person with whom we've had a disagreement or argument, can we recognize the bigger picture? Is it possible to see the mirroring of ourself in others and forgive ourself along with the other?

The sacred Hawaiian practice of Ho'oponopono teaches us that when we forgive another, we forgive ourself. Ho'oponopono is called the Hawaiian Code of Forgiveness, and it's an important practice because when we forgive others, who are we forgiving? Ourselves. We are responsible for 100% of our experiences in life and the memories we replay. The Hawaiian belief is that we carry inside us as parts of the Unconscious Mind, all the significant people in our lives. Ho'oponopono makes it "all right" with them and we can release the old memories that have emerged in the encounter with another. The intention of the process of Ho'oponopono is to align with and clean up our relationships and our genealogy.

Throughout my life there have been key people who have challenged me in this practice of forgiveness. I must admit that I am never comfortable with the feelings that surface - anger, betrayal, fear. My "little girl" gets triggered and I find myself back in a time and space that makes me vulnerable and uncomfortable, a space where I don't feel safe.

But I don't believe in accidents or that there are people and situations that do not have the potential to transform myself and others. So what are these trying situations teaching me?

If I go back to the Hawaiian Code of Forgiveness, I must consider that each person who challenges me is "inviting" me to reveal, release, and transform old subconscious limiting beliefs and patterns. I am usually able to forgive another person's actions but there are those who have been in my life for many years that continually challenge that. I believe that we're mirrors for each other.

Now that I am older, I have the gift of hindsight. I can look back over choices I've made and learn from them. I continue to have opportunities to practice forgiveness through my family and friends. When I see my children learning their life lessons through their marriages and children, I understand even more. Life is an amazing journey and we are invited to make choices throughout the adventure. Sometimes we wish we had chosen differently but regrets are vain. The value of age, and time, is perspective. We can always make a new choice that directs us to new outcomes. Continually we are encouraged to take responsibility for our actions and decide if we like the course our life is on or choose to set new intentions, altering our life's course.

What is being mirrored for you? Who do you need to forgive? Can you forgive yourself? What deep within your core is ready to be transformed if only you can dig deep enough to forgive yourself? That's the journey. That's the quest. May each of us be brave enough to ask our soul to show us the invitation in each situation. How does this person help me become my authentic self? Our master teachers are not those who make us feel loved and accepted but those who challenge us to surrender to something greater than ourself.

Life is an amazing journey that constantly changes. Recognize the people who offer you an invitation to heal and to forgive. Compassion is the key. When we can forgive ourself, we find the compassion to forgive others. When we can seek forgiveness we hold the key to transformation. 
"It is a wonderful day in a life when one is finally able to stand before the long, deep mirror of one’s own reflection and view oneself with appreciation, acceptance, and forgiveness. On that day one breaks through the falsity of images and expectations which have blinded one’s spirit. One can only learn to see who one is when one learns to view oneself with the most intimate and forgiving compassion." (Beauty: The Invisible Embrace, John O'Donohue)

Monday, May 12, 2014

Ireland is Calling

Ireland is calling. After twenty years of traveling back and forth to Africa to discover what it means to be connected to my ancestors, I'm finally journeying back to the land where so many of lineage raised families and dreamed dreams of a better life for their descendants.

My Nordic ancestors left their homelands for adventure and opportunity and settled in Ireland and Scotland. Vikings, Swedes, and Danes, filled with courage and a desire to explore unknown lands, ventured across the sea and found themselves creating new lives in Ireland. From there many would sail across the vast ocean again and begin new lives in America.

What drove our ancestors to leave the life they knew for new possibilities? There was no way to be  certain of what awaited them. There was no easy access to friends and family who had made the trip before them.  Perhaps they had received letters of encouragement from a relative but there was no guarantee.

Hope for a brighter future. That's what called. The promise land. Isn't that what we see throughout history? People emigrating to a place that holds promise for a brighter future?

Now I feel as if I have been called to return to the land where so many of my ancestors called "home." I want to stand on the land and feel her ancient rhythms. I want to feel in my bones what my ancestors felt. I want to stand on the wind swept coastline of Northern Ireland and look across to Scotland like so many of my ancestors must have done. I want the elements to whisper to me, bringing old stories and memories into my thoughts. I want to honor those who came before me and recall tales of old while creating new memories and new stories to be told to my descendants.

I found this lovely poem online. It says everything I've been dreaming and feeling. (

“An Irish heart is inspiring Art”
by Brendan Kennelly

An Irish heart is inspiring art,
Calling home wakening ghosts…. 
On a misty morning, the ships sailed in
Gathering memories, gathering friends, 
Like the air of a tune you know by ear,
The gathering of spirit from near and wide, 
Gifting me music, flooding my veins,
Druid friendship oft-times Skypeship, 
Home again, known again,
A whisper in the Atlantic wind…. 
Which Celtic line am I from?
Where is the source? 
The small walled fields, the gathering hearts
Draw soul and song through time, 
Invisible ties of love,
Gathering the scattering in oneness, though apart…. 
As poets depart for distant shores
we mourn the loss of words unwritten 
To spread the whispers of ancient olds,
A people of difference 
Extending the miles to retract generations,
I take a thread and pass it through 
Rivers, mountains, heather and rocky coastlines,
Through many forms…. 
A yellow flower and stone fence nuzzling memory
As the wanderers gather 
From places far flung,
Embracing all the isle… 
So let the piper play and harpist’s fingers dance!
Celebrate with music and with tales 
Of great love, of life and death,
Of the ones who were sore to leave Ireland’s shore 
Give me the Liberties where I was raised,
And Kevin Street library for books so serene, 
5,000 miles from my house to my home….
Gather now with those returning, 
Breathing in a thousand years of soil and sea;
Magheroarty, Meenlaragh, Gortahork and Gweedore, 
Skimming westward down the sacred mountain,
Each threads together our diaspora, 
Across Shorelines, beyond boundaries,
peat bog, salmon race, love sown in my soul, 
Riding the tide, Western Skies,
towards my home, 
Meet me there, the place that knows,
where the grass meets the sea, 
Raining grace across the generations,
The dead urge us on, 
Irish hearts are inspiring Art,
A gathering: a global orchestra

by the Irish worldwide

“An Irish heart i

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Coyote Medicine

Image credit: <a href=''>steve_byland / 123RF Stock Photo</a>
Photo by Steve Byland
Those of us who live in urban Southern California acknowledge that the wily coyote is growing in numbers and becoming braver. Even in city neighborhoods, the coyote roams freely in the light of day. This morning I was enjoying my coffee on my patio deck and spied an adult coyote at the bottom of my property, meandering through the brush. He moved on but I was reminded of my previous coyote encounters and remembered a post from a couple of years ago. I want to share it with you again, to remind us all of the magic available when coyote appears.

Living with coyote means being protective of your canine and feline companions. Some people believe that the answer is to attempt to remove coyotes from neighborhoods. But where would they be moved? We are living in their former territory and, quite frankly, coyotes are very intelligent beings who are adaptable and are content living among us!

For those of us who pay attention to nature and the balance/imbalance therein, Coyote is viewed as the trickster with many lessons to teach us. Coyote represents the two sides of every coin, every issue, every situation, and urges us to examine all the facts before we take a position or offer an opinion. Coyote is the shape-shifter and the transformer. He is here to teach us the value of living and walking in balance.

Coyote is skillful but would rather find someone else to do the work if he can. He doesn't want to overextend himself, so he finds others to help in tasks so he can drop back. Coyote uses his instincts skillfully to tune into his environment and use the resources around him, including humans living in his former territory, to make life easier. Coyotes are very clever and adapt easily to changes in their environment.

Coyote is devoted to the family unit and the male takes an active role in parenting. He is adaptable, and can make his home in any environment and make it work for him. Coyotes don't take things seriously. There is a sense of humor to their actions and you can't help but laugh if you observe them carefully.

I live in a little canyon at the beach in Southern California. This canyon connects to a wilderness reserve so coyotes are expected. Recently I was enjoying my view with a visiting friend when we spotted a family of four coyotes walking across the hillside landscape in the middle of the afternoon. This sparked a wonderful conversation between my friend and I and led us to reflect about the message Coyote was offering. That night the coyotes were exceptionally active, howling throughout the night. I must admit is was a bit eerie! 

The next morning my friend and I talked at length again about the teachings from Coyote. My friend and I went outside and discovered that one of my red gardening shoes, which I always leave on the front porch after coming in from the garden, was missing. We looked everywhere for that shoe but it had disappeared! When I saw coyote scat under a nearby fruit tree I realized how close the coyote had been during the night.

That led us to begin story-telling about what had happened to my red shoe. The final version of the story was that Coyote had been feasting on fallen fruit under the apricot tree when he smelled a much more delicious treat - the fragrance of my kitty, Bentley! He navigated his way up the garden path, over the two gates separating the garden from my cottage, and down the stairs that lead to my front door. I never let my cat go out into the yard but he has the enclosed patio to lounge in during the day while I'm home. That's where Coyote's keen sense of smell guided my patio. How disappointed he must have been to find no feline dinner after all! So, he grabbed my red shoe and trotted off with it. Better to come back from a hunting expedition with a memento of the the adventure instead of empty handed!

Coyote can help see the humor in life, to lighten up and trust our instincts. He can also teach us to be mindful of our actions and be wary of playing tricks on ourselves or others. Coyote also reminds us that the consequences of our actions affect more than just ourselves.

When we are being too serious about life, Coyote may appear to teach us to laugh at ourselves and life’s ironies. Be prepared for your sense of humor to invite you to expand your perspective.

Sometimes Coyote comes to us with a message about learning from our mistakes. This learning can mean communicating with "our pack" for better understanding and a broader perspective. Or the learning might be an individual lesson like recognizing a personal mistake, seeing its consequences and vowing not to make that same mistake twice.

If Coyote shows up in your life, look for the magic. Be grateful that Coyote has appeared to remind you that you are ready to manifest miracles if you are willing to adjust the imbalances in your life. If he warns you about a "trap" that needs attention, be mindful. Coyote is a powerful teacher who is not out to get us but to teach us about magic, freedom, joy, and the alchemy that is available to all who seek it. 

Blessings of peace, love and light ~ Gretchen

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Mineral Year ~ 2014

I've been reading numerous astrological blogs that share the stories of the sky and how planets are interacting, affecting our lives here on Earth. Numerology provides another layer of understanding to the picture being revealed and Chinese astrology invites us into the year of the Wood Horse. All of these perspectives offer layers of comprehension about how to live in balance here on Earth.

The cosmology of the Dagara people of Burkino Faso explains life through the five elements of Fire, Water, Earth, Mineral, and Nature. Depending on which year you were born, people carry the gifts of one of these elements. However it takes all of the elements to bring balance within and without.

This year, 2014, is a Mineral year according to the Dagara tradition. Mineral refers to communication and to the memories existing in our bones and the "bones" of Mother Earth. Mineral people are referred to as storytellers and communicators. In a traditional culture where the stories are memorized and shared orally, mineral people are equipped with the gifts of memory and communication and are skilled at working with crystals and energy healing. They carry all the stories; not just mythological stories but also genealogical stories and stories of creation. The druids and bards of Celtic tradition were required to spend years memorizing the history and poetry of their lineage. Elder shamans from the Native American, Hawaiian, and African indigenous cultures still hold the secret stories and memories of their ancient oral traditions. 

At a personal level, when we suppress painful stories from our life, they can result in illness and create imbalance within our physical bodies. The ability to remember a suppressed story, and the emotions connected to it, provides the opportunity to release it and allow transformation and healing. Mineral people can often help us in this process as we are guided gently through our memories to release them through energy healing and/or ritual. 

If your birth year ends in a 4 or a 9, you are a Mineral person in the Dagara tradition. According to Malidoma Some,
"The formation of any village, at least that we know of, is always based on some kind of cosmology, cosmologies that help people find out where they came from and where they're going. This is all based on the quest for people's identity, because without it it's very hard to live a life that is focused and motivated. What you have here is a Dagara model of building identity, or building community and creating a viable relationship with the spirit world. 
That's why people in the tribes or in villages are divided into these five different categories, which are based on the understanding that the universe is made of five essential elements. Those elements are intertwined in such a way that it makes it possible for people like us to live in it. Our daily challenges are based on how we dance with these elements. Pain is the result of ignoring one or several of them, and the feeling of groundedness and focus is more connected to a balancing or a proximity to balancing these elements all together. But the most important thing in it is the possibilities or the availabilities in this so-called Wheel of giving us some very substantial knowledge about ourselves. When you know who you are you know how to dance, and then everything else perhaps becomes not as threatening as it looks."
What old stories are you ready to release this year? What new stories are you ready to create? Don't get stuck in an old story that holds you in victim consciousness. In this Mineral year we are being invited to release the old stories and beliefs held in our bones, the ones that no longer serve the highest good. When we are courageous enough to do this, transformation is possible and new stories are waiting to manifest!

Blessings of peace, love and light ~ Gretchen
May you find a harmony between your soul and your life ~ John O'Donohue

Friday, January 3, 2014

Creating Your New Story

As one year ends, another begins. In reflecting on this past year, what do you discover? What intentions did you set at the beginning of 2013? What expansion have you seen and what new intentions do you want to set for 2014?

Intentions come from the heart and soul - they are rooted in the values that are most important to you. An intention is connected to your life's purpose, and is a specific way of expressing it at a given time in your life. 

We create our realities by the stories we tell. We can tell stories about the past and we can design stories to move into. A turning point in my life was when I began to consciously work on transforming my own stories which weren't serving me. Changing my story took time and practice. And it changed my reality.

In the Dagara tradition of Burkino Faso, 2014 is a Mineral year. Mineral is associated with stories and memory. Minerals, rocks and crystals carry the story of place and of the earth. Our bones carry and remember our personal stories and those of our lineage. 

What are the stories you tell about yourself and your family? What kind of life do you want to manifest? What new stories to you want to create? 

Here are a few questions to reflect on as you consider what your next "chapter" is going to be:
  • What am I celebrating? What am I grateful for? What has been wonderful and magical about this past year?
  • What is one aspect about myself that I have especially loved this year? What am I proud of?
  • What would I have done differently this year?
  • What do I want to let go of?
  • What do I want to call in for the new year?
As you begin the new year, I encourage you to reflect on who you are becoming. As old issues, patterns, and limiting beliefs are revealed, consider releasing them through a simple ritual in nature and then allow nature to transform the old into something fresh and new. Write down what you want to release, burn the paper, and bury the ashes in the earth. Or blow the issues you want to transform into stones or shells and throw them into the ocean, a lake, or a river. Remember that intention is everything! 

May all your dreams manifest this year. I wish you a joyous 2014!

Blessings ~ Gretchen