The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

Charge Of The Star Goddess

                                                                      

I was visiting my friend Cindy Greb this past weekend and found myself in her healing room that has the feeling of a haven, a cave of repose where one can come and let go of the cares of the world. Pine cones, drums, books, rocks gathered from her travels, photographs that she took on her travels and at home, candles, spiritual icons and a container of drying nettles, (I was particularly grateful for that, since she made tea later that night which helped with my allergies) among the elements. An interfaith minister; her spiritual practice is eclectic and it shows up in her art work and photography as well. Cindy is creating the beautiful cover art for my Bliss Mistress book. I had come over to do a photo shoot for the cover as well and had an amazing time playing in nature, peeking around trees, meandering through green fields and lying beneath a shower of flowers at Cindy’s expert instruction.

Afterward, I perused a table filled with various guidance cards with insightful messages and gorgeous imagery. Some bore vivid paintings of angels, nature beings, tree spirits, animals, elementals and Goddesses. One of Cindy’s areas of deep interest is The Divine Feminine and she teaches classes on the subject. I was drawn to  The Motherpeace Tarot cards: a circular deck embellished with beautifully  painted graphics that had messages from that Source. The words on the particular card that I drew from the deck delighted me, partly since I hadn’t seen them in awhile, but when I was initially introduced to them, they resonated with a sense of familiarity, as if I had taken them as vows in a previous incarnation.

Starhawk’s Charge of the Star Goddess

I who am the beauty of the green earth

And the white moon among the stars

And the mysteries of the waters,

I call upon your soul to arise and come unto me.

For I am the soul of nature that gives life to the universe.

From Me all things proceed and unto Me they must return.

Let my worship be in the heart that rejoices, for behold-

All acts of love and pleasure are My rituals.

Let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion,

Honor and humility, mirth and reverence within you.

And you who seek to know Me, know that your

Seeking and yearning will avail you not, unless

You know the Mystery:

For if that which you seek, you find not within yourself,

You will never find it without.

For behold, I have been with you from the beginning,

And I am that which is attained at the end of desire.

 From The Spiral Dance, by Starhawk.

From  Wikipedia:

Starhawk (born Miriam Simos) (June 17, 1951) is an American writer and anarchist activist.[1] She is well known as a theorist of Paganism, and is one of the foremost popular voices of ecofeminism. She is a columnist for Beliefnet.com and On Faith, the Newsweek/Washington Post online forum on religion. Starhawk’s 1979 book The Spiral Dance was one of the main inspirations behind the Neopagan movement.

Listen to a lovely musical version of the chant

http://youtu.be/KoYbdxbr4Cg

Peace Out and In

                                                                           

May 30 is recognized as Memorial Day in the U.S.; a day that honors those who have served in the military, as well as their families whose support has allowed them to do so. While I certainly hold them in my heart, I don’t glorify war. I prefer instead to honor peace and as well, those peaceful warriors who see unity rather than divisiveness, reconciliation rather than conflict.

As I was putting out a call to the Universe for inspiration for this week’s Bliss Blog’s entries, a response came instantaneously from my highly intuitive friend Liora Hill who must have been listening even as she lives 3 hours South of me in the Baltimore area. It is on a subject near and dear to my heart.

This was her email:

PEACE
“Harmonious Relations”.
“A state that is calm and tranquil”.
“The absence of mental stress and anxiety”.
“A treaty to cease hostilities”.
“The state prevailing during the absence of war”.
“Peacemaker- someone who keeps peace”.
Definitions from the dictionary.
Peace is a virtue we all possess. Many times it has to be activated, acted on and expressed. The more we do it, it becomes a way of life. We then are Peace! Wherever we go, Peace Is!
Enjoy the Sistas singing
Let There Be Peace”
Sweet Honey in the Rock™ – Let There Be Peace
http://youtu.be/QrXB3xD8NRI

When I consider the idea of peace, I have come to learn that it, like most other things, is an inside job. No one gives it to me and no one has the ability to take it from me. When I have lost my footing and gotten toppled over in a less than peaceful moment, I know that I can regain it, by allowing serene thoughts to flow through my ever so buzzy mind. I have been known to disturb my own peace with images of shoulda-woulda -coulda, what if and if only?  I have been at war with myself when battling with the armored soldiers of criticism and judgment. I have sacrificed myself on the altar of self deprecation.  I have thrown myself on the sword of separation. Unless I am peace with myself and my various ‘warring factions’, I am unable to have peaceful relations with anyone, so fraught with hard and jangly energy am I. It is easy to see ‘enemies’ when I am in separation mode and easier to see compatriots when I am in unity consciousness. In truth, there is  ‘no one out there’…we are all us.

Peace is not some lofty ideal somewhere out there. It is born in each moment, each thought that crosses our minds. Are we harboring war-like thoughts that pound away at us, and by extension all of our relationships or are we holding out our hands in acceptance of the ‘other’?  Are we putting out wounding weaponry with our words or are we offering an olive branch? Collectively, our thoughts are powerful.  Are we willing to be that ‘greater force for good in the world? The choice, as always, is ours.

Likely one of the first songs on the subject that I was introduced to  is Let There Be Peace on Earth. (Seymour Miller & Jill Jackson, “Let There Be Peace on Earth,” 1955)

My friends Peter Moses and his lovely wife Jackie Hurley revised the lyrics which we sing at the close of services at Circle Of Miracles, an interfaith community that I attend. I like them even better than the original, because they speak of the present moment awareness and experience of peace.

“Now there is peace on Earth and it has begun with me.

Now there is peace on Earth, the peace that was meant to be.

With God as Creator, united all are we.

Let us walk with each other, in peace and harmony.

Peace has begun with me, and this is the moment NOW

With every breath I take, now this is my joyous vow.

I take each moment and live each moment, in peace eternally.

Now there is peace on Earth and it has begun with me.”

James Twyman, known as The Peace Troubador who has traveled worldwide, sings a powerful tribute to peace, beckoning all to the table where there is enough for everyone.

May Peace Prevail on Earth

http://youtu.be/xwgLldU9_zs

My friend Deb Chamberlin co-wrote a song with her husband Robert Wynn that is my favorite peace anthem called The Time Has Come. She has performed it with a talented group of Philly local performers whose enthusiam spills forth. Can you see them singing this at the U.N. and the White House?  I can. 

www.thetimehascome.com

Some peace quotes to plant the seeds in your own heart…

We look forward to the time when the Power of Love will replace the Love of Power.  Then will our world know the blessings of peace.  ~William Ewart Gladstone
 
If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.  ~Mother Teresa
Peace cannot be achieved through violence, it can only be attained through understanding.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
 
 

 

You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist.  ~Attributed to both Golda Meir and Indira Gandhi

I think that people want peace so much that one of these days government had better get out of their way and let them have it.  ~Dwight Eisenhower

 
Maybe we should develop a Crayola bomb as our next secret weapon.  A happiness weapon.  A beauty bomb.  And every time a crisis developed, we would launch one.  It would explode high in the air – explode softly – and send thousands, millions, of little parachutes into the air.  Floating down to earth – boxes of Crayolas.  And we wouldn’t go cheap, either – not little boxes of eight.  Boxes of sixty-four, with the sharpener built right in.  With silver and gold and copper, magenta and peach and lime, amber and umber and all the rest.  And people would smile and get a little funny look on their faces and cover the world with imagination.  ~Robert Fulghum
 
 
 
 Circle of Miracles www.circleofmiracles.org

 

The Way Of The Happy Woman

                                                           

Call it nature or nurture, but women are caregivers. We are creative beings; whether it is gestating another life or growing a business. Unfortunately, the last person most of us are encouraged to nourish, is the woman in the mirror.  The book, entitled The Way of The Happy Woman: Living The Best Year of Your Life is about to change all that with its simple message that we deserve happiness and loving self care. The book is chock full of ideas for feeding your tummy and your soul. The author, Sara Avant Stover has gathered together all manner of resources for ‘everywoman’ regardless of age, relationship status, education or physical condition. The languaging in the book is simple and straightforward as she endeavors to offer a luscious buffet of options that will have the reader clamoring for more.  (What’s with the food metaphors?:) 

It took a health crisis in the form of a cervical cancer diagnosis  in 1999 to take this young woman who had viewed herself as healthy and active, (vegan diet and yoga practice among her day to day) and have her travel to Thailand, and even farther inward, to turn her life around. What it took, in addition to outward lifestyle changes, was internal exploration about what it truly meant to be a woman. She has unearthed those treasures and lovingly holds them out to be scooped up by her readers and students.

The Way Of The Happy Woman is a guide that will,  metaphorically speaking, hold the reader’s hand and lead her through an entire years’ worth of ritual, menu and exercises, including yoga asanas, broken into seasonal tidbits. Measuring our lives by the season rather than the clock is a lost art that Stover is helping to reclaim.

Even those who have never set foot or tush on a yoga mat, will find the line drawings of the postures to be simple to learn and practical to use and the recipes (although I haven’t tried them yet:), sound yummy in anticipation.

With concepts such as The Pleasure Principle (page 136) and Reclaiming Rest (page 237), I found myself nodding and smiling in recognition of what I most need to recall in the midst of my sometimes ‘crazy-busy’ life.

Wanting to savor the wisdom shared by a sister who, like many of us, have been there, done that, got the t-shirt? Then by all means, read this book!

www.thewayofthehappywoman.com

Hug It Forward

                                                Shining heart
Last Sunday, I attended an event called Raise The Vibration which was held at Independence Mall in Philadelphia. A month or so earlier, I had picked up a pastel colored postcard with an image of Kwan Yin who is known as The Goddess of Compassion, imprinted on it.  My friend Rod Schichtel who works in a store  on South Street, called Nangellini, gleefully handed me the card, knowing it would be my cup of tea and suggested that I get involved somehow. He told me that he planned on being there, creating art. He does that every day through the sweet simplicity of his being, but I knew he meant he would be using canvas and paint to splash beauty about.
I took the train from bucolic Bucks County to bustling Center City Philadelphia, intending to get off at a stop a mere few blocks from 6th and Market where I would be meeting up with friends Lydia and Catherine who planned to engage in one of my favorite activities…FREE HUGS! Unfortunately, having been a bit sleep deprived for the past week or so, I nodded off and missed my stop. As a result, I ended up walking 14 blocks to get to my destination. Well worth it, when it provided grist for the mill and words for this blog entry:)
As I was hustling to get there, I noticed that the energy seemed harsh and jagged. Car horns, people talking to themselves (I work in a psychiatric hospital, so that doesn’t normally phase me), shouting, many people smoking; one while pushing a baby stroller. Know that smoking is one of my pet peeves (I say that breathing is necessary/smoking is optional), I have an extremely strong opinion that smoking around children is tantamount to child abuse since it exposes them to toxins from which they can’t escape. All of these thoughts were rolling through my mind as I was heading to a peace/unity event. YIKES!  Not so peaceful state of mind at that point.
When I arrived and greeted Catherine and Lydia who were standing with their beautifully decorated FREE HUGS sign, I sighed with relief, since the energy felt softer; or maybe I was the one who had softened, since some of the folks there had lit cigarettes in their hands as well):  It was as if my vision had changed and all I could see was the radiance of each being there, as the heart chakra was illuminated.
The expanse of lawn was filled with people of all ages, socio-economic background; well dressed tourists and homeless folks mingling amidst the sounds of 60’s rock and reggae, drum beats, singing, dancing and twirling hippies and hippie wish-they-were’s on a cloudy but not quite rainy late Spring day. Convinced that it didn’t rain cuz I brought my red umbrella, tucked into my backpack. One of the first people I saw was my friend Rod who is a work of he(art) himself, and a graphic artist by inclination and talent. Sitting on the grass with home made easels propping up paint infused canvases, he moved from one to the other, creating images about love and unity.

I had come there to soak up the ‘good vibes’ and for the next few hours, walked around the area, holding up my own FREE HUGS sign. Feeling quite ‘go with the flow’, as a result of my training and experience as a Cuddle Party facilitator and having come freshly from one the day before, held at my friend Halina’s house , I felt totally fearless about it, regardless of who was a yes to a hug.  I lost count after awhile, but estimated that I had hugged at least 200 people from the time I got started at around 2 pm and finished about 4:30 and probably clocked more than 10 miles including  those extras from the train and then around and around and around the park and then back to a closer train station and then back to my car once I landed in Doylestown…didn’t need to go the gym that day.  Amazingly I only knew a handful of people there, contrary to what my friend Greg has often said… “You who know everyone….”  One of the men I hugged who was perched on a stone wall and smiled broadly when I approached with my sign, made a comment that it was like being back in the 60’s, except he had a cell phone in his pocket.

Wearing my anthropologist/sociologist hat, I made  some interesting observations about the hugging dynamics in terms of receptivity to what I was offering. There seemed to be no discernible difference between gender…men and women seemed equally willing to hug me. What I did notice was that if there were groups of  young women, most of them were eager to hug, while with groups of young men, a few in the group were, while others held back shyly. Older teens and early 20-somethings were more likely to come dancing/dashing over to engage in hugs, while those my age or slightly older would wait for me to come to them. People in their 70’s and beyond seemed less like to engage. Individual men of all ages, reached out.  A cultural divide took place as I noticed more often that folks of Indian and Asian origin seemed more reticent and some smiled but waved me off, while African American, Latino and Caucasian people seemed more comfortable and willing to ‘embrace’ the experience. I respected the boundaries of those who were a ‘no’ to hugging by simply smiling and waving.

Some took pictures…how cool to be a tourist attraction in The City of Brotherly Love (and Sisterly Affection) .

As I was winding down, I put out a silent wish for someone to join me for dinner before hopping back on the train. I turned around and shrieked with delight when I saw my friends Alan and Jim who had arrived a bit earlier and were actually ready to leave, were heading to dinner and then onto the very train I would be taking home…perfectly timed.

Enjoyed chopstick eaten lomein and veggies at the food court at Market East and conversation about all things esoteric and mundane. With a few minutes to catch the train, we scooted down the stairs and made it just in time and wonder of wonders, actually found 3 seats together. Alan and I have this simpatico connection, and at dinner, I was about to ask them how long they had been together. At that moment, he pipes up…”Jim and I will be celebrating our 27th anniversary next month; I know you were just going to ask.” Can’t keep anything to myself with such people around:)

After goodbye hugs, they got off a few stops before mine and I sat back, watching the lush greenery rush past my window, sighing with deep appreciation about how blessed I am. My vibration had indeed been raised and I would daresay, likely that of anyone who happened to meander through that magical grassy knoll.

My talented videographer friends Flora Nikki Zanfrisco and Rene Harris shot this film to honor the day…dance and sing and play along with us.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ao7JfrRICUs
www.raisethevibe.org 
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