Soul Path Sanctuary

A place of pause, renewal, and connection for seekers

Jul
9
2018

Soul Path Practices Week of July 9: Chariot – 4 of Water – Elder of Fire

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For Seekers – Practices for Soul & Spirit – Tarot – Weekly Practice

When not observing the Solstice seasons or Equinox arrivals, I pull Tarot cards weekly to inspire practice that cultivates soul wisdom for readers of this blog as a group using the Gaian Tarot.  You are invited to use the cards below to inspire your practice, and, if you like, share your reflections in the comments.  You are also free to draw your own cards using these positions.

This week’s cards were not drawn at random, but show the path of the new moon arriving this Thursday, July 12th at 10:48pm ET in the USA. The astrological Wheel of the Year is divided into 36 decans and each corresponds to a Major, numbered, and Court/Person card – just like the Soul Path Practices – so I use them for soul tending and practice prompts aligned with the celestial. Before the new moon, the dark moon nights – July 10 / 11 – offer themselves as a time to release all that you do not want to carry into the next moon cycle. More about following the guidance of the moon this way in the post on Lunar Living in a Solar World. And this week’s practices can be supports for dark moon releasing.

PATH:  Use Pile 1 / Majors and Aces to pull a card for the question:  What path would it best serve us to walk this week? THE CHARIOT invites us to walk this week on pathways of  …

  • Cooperating with both your conscious awareness and your unconscious urgings and using them like alternating paddles to move yourself forward in the flow of life.
  • Moving with determination and focus toward your destination (which could be: a vision for the future; commitment to completing a project; a place or person you want to visit; a new season to be entered with intention, ect.).
  • Aligning yourself with the helpful energy that surrounds you (what are the eagles, orcas and salmons that are appearing in your life to remind you of the guidance and support of the earth?).
  • Recognizing all is sacred, even your mundane tools of everyday living.

PRACTICE:  Use Pile 2 / numbered cards for this question:  What practice(s) will best serve us to move along this path this week? FOUR OF WATER invites us to practices such as …

  • Meditating / engaging in visio divina on this card’s well cover symbol, called the Vesica Pisces, with its overlapping circles that represent the physical world and the spirit world and their connection. Contemplate how these circle overlap in your own life. Open up to the emotions that arise from your meditation.
  • Sitting in silence and imagining your mind is like a still, deep blue pool. Let your thoughts come but float away as you re-direct your attention to the blue depths of the pool. Be open to whatever—or the nothing—that comes.
  • Making a pilgrimage to a place of sacred waters. You can spend time with a stream near your house or dream about a trip to Chalice Well in Glastonbury, England (the place depicted in the card). Recognize all water is sacred.

POSTURE:  Use Pile 3 / People cards for a question such as:  What attitudes and behaviors will be most helpful to undertake this practice and walk with path? ELDER OF FIRE invites you to follow your path and practices with attitudes of ….

  • Intensity.
  • A desire to serve the Whole with your own unique power to heal.
  • Being in the NOW, the moment that is the intersection of temporal time and eternal time, without any reason to rush from it.
  • Dedicating your practice to healing, to honoring the ancestors, to something greater than the usual everyday concerns.

OVERALL MUSINGS: In the modern world – and especially in the US – the outer manifestations of movement are what is valued: the project completed, the To Do list all checked off, the art or writing when it is shared. But not all movement can be seen. Our emotional and imaginative growth is most often going on below the surface – and at its own pace. The most fertile periods for this growth might even be when we seem most stalled in our manifestation. This week’s Four of Water practices offer structures for holding this messy, less valued, often uncomfortable process. And creating the space for this inactive action may paradoxically be just what you need to move your Canoe or Chariot forward when the conditions are right.

My moonthly news will come out by Thursday with further musings on this celestial pattern, a reading of the moonth, and reflections on Love and Justice. If you want to receive it be sure to sign up

Jul
2
2018

Soul Path Practices Week of July 2: Justice – 7 of Fire – Elder of Earth

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For Seekers – Practices for Soul & Spirit – Tarot – Weekly Practice

When not observing the Solstice seasons, Equinox arrivals, or new moon arrivals, I pull Tarot cards weekly to inspire practice that cultivates soul wisdom for readers of this blog as a group using the Gaian Tarot.  You are invited to use the cards below to inspire your practice, and, if you like, share your reflections in the comments.  You are also free to draw your own cards using these positions.

PATH:  Use Pile 1 / Majors and Aces to pull a card for the question:  What path would it best serve us to walk this week? Justice  invites us to walk this week on pathways of  …

 

  • Awareness of the interconnection of all things.
  • A heart made light because you know you have considered the Whole, the Earth, your community. You are living in a right balance between their needs and your own. 
  • Articulating your ethical and moral codes and then checking in on how you are living up to their highest potential.
  • Honoring and learning lessons from the movements for justice that have made this a better world for the many, not just a few.
  • Balancing and giving equal weight to your heart and your mind as you make important decisions.

 

PRACTICE:  Use Pile 2 / numbered cards for this question:  What practice(s) will best serve us to move along this path this week?  Seven of Fire invites us to practices such as …

 

  • Pushing through toward a goal or commitment you made, no matter how difficult, knowing that the work serves a greater good.
  • Spending some time communing with or learning about a wisdom teacher such as the Viking god Thor or the Celtic goddess and saint Brigid. What quality or attitude of theirs could you adopt to persist in reaching your goals?
  • If you are engaged in a creative project, spend some time in the revision stage where you shape and trim and hone. Dedicate this work to your spiritual growth.
  • Writing your fears about _______ on slips of paper. Safely burn them and then take an action to move on from those fears.

 

POSTURE:  Use Pile 3 / People cards for a question such as:  What attitudes and behaviors will be most helpful to undertake this practice and walk with path?   Elder of Earth invites you to follow your path and practices with attitudes of ….

  • Gentle strength.
  • Joyful attention to the work that needs to be done.
  • Sensing that the magical is close at hand, right here in the everyday.
  • Being able to envision what will come in the future from actions taken in the present moment.
  • Understanding that life comes in circles; the challenges will pass and the achievements will pass with all being woven into the tapestry of a life.

OVERALL MUSINGS:  Moving out of the Solstice season – and here in the US through our 4th of July Birthday – we find ourselves invited to keep at the work of Justice. The Seven of Fire demands our dedication despite the challenges of the work while the Elder of Earth reminds us that have skills and gifts to bring to the constant process of creating – and repairing and recreating – Justice in our personal, national, and global spheres.

I believe it was from the brave-hearted African American poet and activist June Jordan that I heard the idea that our US founding fathers couldn’t live out their ideals of liberty and justice for all, but once invoked they could not be denied. So it has become the task of their descendants to bring these ideals to life. The work isn’t linear; it’s circular. We fall back or find out rights or access we thought won don’t really exist for all. Right now, so many of us in the US feel we are at the bottom of the circle. So like generations before us, we have to get on with the pushing toward the highest ideals and vision. June Jordan, in lines from Poem for the South African Women, has words to inspire us:

And who will join this standing up

and the ones who stood without sweet company

will sing and sing

back into the mountains and

if necessary

even under the sea

we are the ones we have been waiting for

 

Jun
20
2018

Summer Solstice Meditations: Gratitude, Joy, Illumination, and Evil

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For Seekers – Practices for Soul & Spirit – Seasonal Observances

Gratitude, joy, and connection are the qualities to cultivate during the Summer Solstice’s height of light. Both the Sioux elder and the scientist agree.

Okute of the Teton Sioux is remembered as saying:

All living creatures and all plants derive their life from the sun. If it were not for the sun, there would be darkness and nothing would grow – the earth would be without life.

Mathematician Brian Swimme writes in Heat of the Hidden Cosmos:

So for four million years, humans have been feasting on the Sun’s energy stored in the form of wheat or sheep as each day the Sun dies as Sun and is reborn as the vitality of Earth. And those solar flares are in fact the very power of the vast human enterprise. And every child of ours needs to learn the simple truth: she is the energy of the Sun. And we adults should organize things so her face shines with the same radiant joy.

The Rider Waite Smith Sun card shows us a world where, yes, all is arranged so that a child’s face shines with joy and gratitude flows.

 

Sun card by Pamela Coleman Smith from a 1909 card scanned by Holly Voley

We want to follow the child into this place of joy, but this Solstice we here in the United States find ourselves facing children being taken from their parents, children fleeing violence being met with violence, children being used as pawns in political games.

At Solsticetide with the sun overhead, we humans cast almost no shadow. The shadowy parts of ourselves have nowhere to hide so they must emerge into plain sight. This year the evil of our immigration policies in the present and out of the past is illuminated.

So then then can we celebrate the Solstice with gratitude and joy?

Since we are in a time of extremes, we must turn to other extremes to find an answer. Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl survived the concentration camps of Nazi Germany to write Man’s Search for Meaning. When I first read the book, I remember being astounded by his reports that prisoners still experienced joy and sought out beauty. Once, exhausted prisoners roused themselves to go see the sunset and one said, “How beautiful the world can be!”

These moments gave meaning to their lives and helped them to survive with their humanity intact. To keep our humanity we must have gratitude and joy in our lives.

And this gratitude and joy in times of extreme can even expand us beyond even the physical boundaries that we think separate us. Frankl shares a powerful story of “talking” with his wife from whom he was separated (she was killed in the Bergen-Belsen camp):

I sensed my spirit piercing through the enveloping gloom. I felt it transcend that hopeless, meaningless world, and from somewhere I heard a victorious ‘Yes’ in answer to my question of the existence of an ultimate purpose. At that moment a light was lit in a distant farmhouse, which stood on the horizon as if painted there, in the midst of the miserable grey of a dawning morning in Bavaria. ‘Et lux in tenebris lucent’–and the light shineth in the darkness. For hours I stood hacking at the icy ground. The guard passed by, insulting me, and once again I communed with my beloved. More and more I felt that she was present; that she was with me; I had the feeling that I was able to touch her, able to stretch out my hand and grasp hers. The feeling was very strong: she was there. Then, at that very moment, a bird flew down silently and perched just in front of me, on the heap of soil which I had dug up from the ditch, and looked steadily at me.

We are connected and moments of transcendence open us more and more deeply to this state of being. The Summer Solstice qualities of gratitude and joy are the keys transcendence. And the fruit of all these feelings is Love – the love that compels you to act for the good of the Whole, for the good of yourself, for the good of a child.

So here is a meditation the Summer Solstice to cultivate and share gratitude and joy beyond boundaries. It is inspired by my (limited) experience with the Buddhist practice of Tonglen, which has you take in and release suffering of yourself and others. This meditation modifies that idea to connect with gratitude for the sun and share the positive energy out into the world.

The meditation moves right into a Tarot/oracle reading so you may want to have cards handy (or if you don’t use cards just skip this part).

Doing this meditation outside at noon on the actual Solstice day of Thursday, June 21 would be optimal but it could be done anytime and anywhere you want to connect with and share gratitude.

The Steps:

#1: Settle your body. You may already have a way you do this. If not, you can focus on the in and out of your breath. Then feel the floor or earth below you supporting you. Relax into that support. You might imagine you have roots that connect you deeply to the earth.

#2: Connect with the sun. You may be outside on a sunny day so this will be a felt experience. Or you may have to imagine the sun as a orb of glowing light above you if it is cloudy or you are inside. Let the sun’s rays enter into you through the crown of your head and flow through your body.

#3: Bring to mind a gift of the sun in your life. The options are limitless here. You may want to choose something sensual – say food or flower – and remember how you communed with it. You could also have something handy to eat or gaze upon and include this as part of the meditation. Offer words internally or said aloud that express your gratitude for this gift. Tune into the positive energy that flows from this gift of the sun.

#4: Let yourself bask in the positive energy and joy of the gifts of the sun.

#5: Direct your positive energy toward someone you know is suffering or facing a challenge. This could be a family member or a friend. Imagine them surrounded by the positive energy. Perhaps you give this energy a color or a scent or a speed.

#6:  Direct your positive feelings toward someone you don’t know who is suffering. There have been many images of the children and parents in anguish at the border. You might call one specific image to mind. Imagine them surrounded by the positive energy. Perhaps you give this energy a color or a scent or a speed.

#7: Image your positive energy spreading out like a gentle wind. It is moving from the suffering person out to those around them, perhaps other children, perhaps guards or others in the system. You are recognizing your connection to all of them. Let the energy keep spreading out, flowing over whole towns, whole states, the whole country, perhaps even out into the atmosphere over the whole of the earth. Imagine it mingling with the positive energy of others.

#8: Come back to yourself, reconnecting with your gratitude for the gifts of the sun.

#9: Take up your Tarot or oracle deck and pull one to three cards to show you what is most important to pay attention to from this gratitude meditation. Contemplate the cards.

#10: Connected to the flow of gratitude through you and inspired by the cards, commit to something that you will do within the next 24 hours to serve the good of the Whole. Follow through with joy.

 

Note: If you are looking for inspiration for action specifically around what is happening at the US border, there is a clearing house listing on The Praxis Project site.

May
27
2018

To the Graduates

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For Seekers

I went to my nephew’s college graduation and the adult speaker was, well, uninspiring. I didn’t entirely disagree with his advice about taking small steps. But he didn’t place his message into a wider context of working toward anything larger. It got me thinking: What would I say? So my speech to the graduates follows. I am addressing these remarks to those graduating from college or high school, but when we adults attend such events, we, too, are invited to renew our belief in the possible and take up the charge of emerging new into the world. So these words are for us oldsters, too. This piece is dedicated to my nephew Ian Smith.

To the Graduates

What to say to help you claim the now into which you emerge? What will inspire you to shape the now to your visions? I pause because the now we see in the news – the news that streams from our devices and lights up all 24 hours of the day – seems so unshapable, so broken.

But there is news – vital but unseen – to share with you. An ancient sensibility out of the Celtic tradition invites us to see the world with different eyes. With these eyes, we perceive the mountain behind the mountain. This second mountain is immaterial but essential. It gives the mountain of rock its soul.  When you look deeply into the mountain and sense that soul, your spine tingles with the power emanating from beyond.

The daily news barrage is like a physical mountain blocking our view into the greater power of this day.

Because something amazing happened this morning. The sun rose – even if behind clouds. A lip of light pressed itself to the horizon: an illuminating kiss to wake the day. The sun spread and moved its rays over the earth touching tree leaves reaching into the sky. The green canopy drank the light into itself, making its morning breakfast of the sugars necessary for all cellular processes. Each tree sent nutrients not only into its own trunk and roots, but also through the soil, to be shared with its neighbors. The forest, even in its silence, is a place of great collaboration.

And as a leftover from this morning feeding, the trees released the oxygen that entered your sleeping lungs. This breath helped fire the more than 37 trillion cells within you that shifted as you turned to rise and dress, perhaps – depending on how late you slept after last night’s celebrations – to dash to this graduation ceremony.

It is a miracle you have all made it to this moment. It is a miracle we all have made it to this moment.

This moment made possible by the sun and the trees, the turning of earth, trillions of cells working together, teachers who enlightened and tested you, friends who cheered you in success and carried you in disappointment, the parents and the grandparents, your whole family, and the long line of ancestors streaming behind you. An enormous net held you through your education – and will last beyond it.  The net will change, but it is resilient. Broken strands – the people who leave your life – create opening for new supports to enter. The net is constantly renewed.

So the news behind the news is that each day is a miracle. Yes, you are miracle.

Remind yourself about your miraclehood as you go through your life. You might pause – even if only for 30 seconds – each day as you awake to let yourself remember and sense the miracle of the day, of your breath, of yourself.  

Let this morning infusion be the soil out of which your visions grow. Dare to imagine a world aligned with the highest values: Justice, Beauty, Love. Dare to reach for your heart’s desires. Dare to seek change so great and beneficial to the planet that it may not even come in your lifetime.

And when you go out into the world, do what you can to realize the vision. The vision will be big, but the steps toward it on any given day may be small – and sometimes even backwards. Progress is rarely a straight line. And an expansive vision exists beyond the boundary of a day, a week, or even a decade. You build the vision over time.

As you reach toward the vision, remember that each person you meet is a miracle. This may be easier with the ones you love, but you must also extend this recognition to those who challenge or disagree with you, those who seem different. They may not see you as a miracle – they may not see themselves as a miracle – but we are all in this boat of miracles together. Listen. Learn. Hold on to the possibility of connection.

Even as you recognize the connection to those who challenge you, don’t get caught in their visions – or lack of vision. Rather seek out those whose vision is similar or overlapping to yours. These will be your collaborators. These collaborators could be your co-workers, but also lovers, friends, and others: someone you meet in the subway or the supermarket; a wisdom figure that visits you faithfully in dreams. Perhaps you’ll even see how a tree or a mountain collaborates with you. The natural world, after all, has been 4.5 billion years in the making and knows a thing or two about surviving and thriving.

You and your collaborators have great work to do: to bring the miracle visions into this broken world. So you will have to go beyond the usual suspects, to be curious beyond your field of study, to work outside your comfort zone. Maybe bring together bedfellows as strange as:

  • Theater and Community Planning … because a wonderful town needs both the basics like street lights and the social elements like singing that create community.
  • Design and Religion … to create meaningful experiences of the numinous for technology-driven times.
  • Business and Meditation … because the mind needs direction to meet both the mystical and the practical possibilities of life.
  • Neuroscience and Divination … to open our eyes to the patterns underlying the functioning of our world.
  • Criminal Justice and Culinary Arts … because food, so necessary to feel secure, binds us to one another when we eat together.

Yes, these are weird combinations. Yes, I am suggesting that what seems weird now may be the way through these times we live in. You can learn from tradition, the generations past, we oldsters who are giving you graduation advice, but we know the world as it has been. You are emerging into the world as it will be. Perhaps the world is not so much broken as broken open and waiting for you to take the fragments remaining to create something even better out of the rearranged part – something we of older generations wouldn’t even have imagined.

This graduation is your threshold. The door is open to your future. As you stand in the in-between place today, I invite you to put on a mantle of miracle. Feel its power and possibility settle upon you. Keep this garment close to your skin for protection, for inspiration. Wear it long after you taken off today’s graduation robes. Know that it can not be taken away from you. Your mantle is within you, renewed with each breath, fired by each cell. Your mantle of miracle is you.

May
13
2018

Wisdom Wanders

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For Seekers – Practices for Soul & Spirit – Seasonal Observances – Tarot

The freedom in walking lies not in being anyone; for the walking body has no history;  it is just an eddy in the stream of immemorial time. Frederic Gros

seeker spread full verticle

Wisdom Wanders support you to attune to elemental wisdom and within the context  of the Walking the Ways of the Summer Light seasonal retreat support you to gather the questions that matter most deeply to you now.

There are no rules for a Wisdom Wander, but this flow is offered as a jumping off point for your own designs. But remember to follow your feet, your heart, and where ever your senses lead you.

Selecting Your Place: You don’t have to go anywhere special for a Wisdom Wander. Your backyard might provide all the wonder you need.  But to vary your views, you might seek out places that put you in touch the weekly elemental focus. A place where you can touch bare ground or stone for Earth. A hill or mountain top to feel the Air and be close to birds, and a windy urban avenue could do the same. If you can, traveling to a large body of water or the ocean for a Water Wisdom Wander would be appropriate, or just wander on a rainy day. The Fire week of the Walking the Ways e-treat comes during the period of longest days so anywhere on a sunny day will do, or build a bonfire to contemplate its flame.

Separating From the Everyday: You may want to enact a small ritual of leaving behind all your responsibilities, worries, and cares. You could visualize putting them into a box. If any critical voices start to speak, just assure them you’ll be back; you are only going for a walk.  Can you leave your cell behind? Or at least put it into airplane mode.

Travel Light But Bring What You Need: Remember to take care of you body: water? sun screen? good shoes?. Remember any ritual or creativity needs: tiny notebook and pen? drawing materials? camera? And, of course, cards from your Tarot or oracle deck.  Bring it all on one Wander. Bring nothing on another.

Set an Intention: An overall intention of the Walking the Ways Wisdom Wanders is to seek out and be open to the questions that speak to our souls. One of those questions collected will focus the more directed pilgrimage journey that is part of the final week of Walking the Ways.

Invite / Select / Welcome your Way Showers / Inquisitors / Guides for the Day’s Wandering:  Because the language of nature and the elements is not immediately apparent to us humans, we can ask for help from the Tarot or oracles – or if you know more about natural processes, those observations can you learn more about Tarot.  You may have a relationship with a wisdom figure(s) represented on a Tarot or oracle card and want to select it.  You may let who ever needs to come emerge from a face-down draw. Spend some time meeting the one(s) who emerge to travel with you. I often work with 4 or so guides / cards in a wander.

Wander:

  • Be open to whatever draws your attention and spend time there. Pause. Look. Listen.
  • If you would like to engage with an area or a plant, greet it, ask its permission to approach and receive its response. If allowed to approach, do so respectfully; engage your sense to receive the messages and questions offered.
  • You might select one of your guides – by chance or choice – to come and be with you in the places of pause and contemplation. Consider how the place and the guide fit together.
  • When you have finished, don’t forget to offer gratitude before you move on.  You might leave a strand of your hair as a gift. Or perhaps you have planned ahead and brought a small natural object to leave as a sign of gratitude.

Be Open to Creative Urges: The earth is busy creating in cooperation with the summer sun.  How might you mimic this creativity to learn its magic? Bring out your notebook or artists tools. Gather loose elements of the earth (rocks, fallen petals, twigs, feathers) and arrange them purposefully. Your guides might like to be placed within your creation. You might want to document with a photo that becomes your memento… and then let all the elements return to lie on the earth as they were.

Return:  Notice when and where you are passing from your place of wandering into the more human world. You might pause, offer some gratitude, or say a prayer at this point.

Reflect: You may want to just sit or to journal or draw.  Let the experience seep into you.  Let some insights emerge.  Connect with your guide; have a chat about what you experienced together.

Gathering Questions: While on the Wander or just afterward, you might just blurt out or free writing all the questions that surface.  Spend some time with your guides listening with your imagination to the questions they would ask you if they could speak aloud. Contemplate your memento as if it were a Tarot card and let it offering you questions. Sometime later in the week, you might want to hone and shift through your questions.  This can be like the process of creating questions to take to a Tarot reading. Here are the prompts I send to people ahead of my Tarot consultations to get their questions percolating:

  • Questions that yield the most freedom and possibility most often include HOW and WHAT. For example:  How can I ….?  How have I ….?  In what ways ….?  What do I most need to pay attention to now?  What will support me to …?
  • Questions that can be fruitful in specific circumstances often include WHY, WHERE, and WHO. For example:  Where in my life have I ….?  Who can best support me in doing …?  Who is challenging me ….? [Be open to the answer not being a human that you know!]  Why am I really doing this (i.e. what is underneath the surface)?
  • WHICH limits you to particular options already determined. If you are still in an early stage of decision making, it is probably too early for a WHICH question.  If you have been working seeking an answer for a long time and feel clear that a decision rests between a set number of options, then WHICH may be fruitful.
  • YES / NO questions are not generative. But if you are burnt out on generating ideas and are ready to trust the message that comes through the cards, this just might be the kind of question that you need.

Cultivate Patience: Each Wisdom Wander is an invitation to step out of the demands of time, and the whole flow toward the Solstice extends an invitation to be free of knowing the answers but instead opening to the questions. The words of the poet Rilke cheer us in this work:

Be patient toward all that is unsolved

in your heart and try to love the questions themselves

like locked rooms and like books that are written

in a very foreign tongue.

Acknowledgements:  This process is most directly influenced by my work with Joanna Powell Colbert and her Gaian Tarot and Mellissae Lucia and her Oracle of Initiation. James Wells’ wisdom on question generation inspired the question asking prompts.

Registration is open for the 2018 e-retreat of Walking the Ways of the Summer Light where you can receive daily inspiration and support for cultivating the essential energies of the summer sun: growth, movement, sensuality, creativity, delight.

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