Saturday, December 31, 2011

Dell Ink Management Solution - Refurbished Ink Cartridge Low Ink Warning Troubleshooting

There have been numerous incidents where Dell injet printers will not properly recognize remanufactured ink cartridges.You will get the warning that the cartridge is "low" or "very low" on the black and/or color ink. The Dell solution is to purchase genuine Dell replacement cartridges. Of course these are the highest priced cartridges out there and there are cheaper alternatives such as the remanufactured to OEM spec cartridges. These cartridges are not only cheaper but they are good for a healthier environment.

This is a software issue. To solve the conflict for once and all without spending hours browsing forums, blogs and posts, the solution is to unistall your Dell printer software, and then reinstall the software using the custom option. When using the custom option, but sure to NOT chose or check the option to install anything to do with ink level tracking. On the Dell V310 that this was just tried on, there was no "custom option" but the first window that came up displayed  the choice of three programs that could be installed and all three were checked. The first one was for Ink Management....so we simply unchecked that box and reinstalled the software. This solved the pop up error message saying that the newly installed remanufactured ink cartridge was low or very low on ink.

The next step we took was setting the printer itself back to factory default settings. This was done after rebooting the p/c and the printer.

Okay, so you lose the option to "know" what your ink levels are, however, just keep an extra black and color refurbished cartridge on hand as backup, and when you run out of ink, install the backup and order one to replace your backup.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Updating your Antivirus, Malware and Adware software. Be prepared!

I was out on a service call today troubleshooting a small network. One of the things I mentioned to my client was that the antivirus software should be updated on all his machines. His response was that all his software was set to auto-update. Now this would be just fine if they always auto-updated. But, from my experience, I can not count how many times I have clicked on "update" or "update now" on various programs that had previously been set to automatically update, only to learn that there was one or more updates sitting there needing to be downloaded.

A very strong warning to all who are online..take the time once a week to simply check for updates on your software..mainly your antivirus/malware/adware software as well as Microsoft Update if you are running a M/S system. Even that has failed to auto-update on my machines. These all deal with security issues, and that is a big concern...either from getting malware, viruses, or other unwanted things taking over your machine, to a hacker finding a way in to catch what you type and learn your passwords and such to other places you may visit online.

Update, update, update..... very important...and a few minutes a week of your time could save you a chunk of change from NOT having to call me out to remove such things off of your machine that have slipped in due to not keeping updated.

An addition to this post that I would like to make is don't be secure just running your antivirus software. There are things out there that are not viruses that will get past your antivirus software...this is called Malware. Now, true, malware does encompass viruses, but there are other things out there besides viruses that will attack your machine.

What I have done is added Malwarebytes to all my machines... my main laptop, all my lab machines and my wife's p/c. This was after we lost two systems to malware attacks and we had to replace both. I was introduced to Malwarebytes by McAfee, when they could not clean my machine even by using remote access...they installed the free version of Malwarebytes to find what McAfee could not locate.. It found it and eliminated the problem. This was well over two years ago, and all my machines have not had problems since then. I liked it so well that not only do I run the free version on my lab computers, but on my main machine and my wife's machine, we purchased a licensed version. You can download the free version here, securely from a well known and trusted safe download site, cnet: Malwarebytes Anti-Malware . Be sure to use the green download button on the LEFT side of your screen.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

How To Smudge - First Nation's Style

There are times that you need to cleanse yourself and your environment of negative energies as well as for healing and protection.  One of my favorite techniques is smudging to accomplish such things.  It is based on intent, as with all magic(k) and spellwork and is relatively easy to implement.  I was going to write an article to cover how this is accomplished by myself, however, I found a video that shares the concept of how I smudge myself.  I hope this helps.  Any questions, feel free to ask in comment, and I will get back with you as soon as possible.




Magic spell to ease pain and/or renew hope

Take away pain/renew hope with the below magic spell

I have had various requests for such a spell, so I have decided to post it here to share with those who have asked and for those who are seeking such a spell.  One thing to remember, is that a spell that I may list can be adjusted to fit your circumstances.  The overall spell is basically an outline but can also be used as it is presented here.  The main work with any magick and spellwork is that the outcome is based upon your "intent" at the time of performing or casting.

This spell can be performed to ease the pain of a broken relationship, divorce, death of a loved one or other painful circumstance and to build and renew a sense of hope in the future.

The ingredients needed are:
  • One Black Candle
  • 3 Pieces of Amethyst
  • Vetivert Oil
  • One White Candle
  • 3 Pieces of Rose Quartz
  • Lotus Oil
At Sunset on the night of the Full Moon, take the Black Candle and inscribe with a short description of your problem, i.e. divorce, break-up, death, etc. Annoint the Candle with Vetivert oil and charge it. Set the candle in a holder on your altar. Take the three pieces of amethyst and hold in your hand. Visualize your pain and pour it into the stones. Place the stones in a circle around the base of the candle holder and light the candle. Visualize the pain leaving you. Allow the candle to burn down one third of the way and then extinguish.

Take one of the pieces of amethyst outside. Hold it into your hand and again see and feel your pain transferring to the stone. Then take the stone and throw it from you with all your might. Never take this stone up again. Repeat this spell for the next two nights, until the candle has completely burned down, and the amethyst stones are gone. Take any remaining wax from the candle and bury off of your property.

At Sunrise on the morning of the New Moon, take the White Candle and inscribe with the word "hope". Anoint the candle with Lotus oil and charge it. Set the candle in a holder on your altar. Take the three pieces of rose quartz and hold in your hand. Visualize a positive future for yourself. See yourself living, laughing, and enjoying life. Place the stones in a circle around the base of the candle holder and light the candle. Visualize and feel a strong sense of hope and expectancy coming to you. Allow the candle to burn down one third of the way and then extinguish.

Repeat this spell for the next two nights, until the candle has completely burned down. Take the rose quartz pieces and place one in your purse, pocket, medicine bag, or amulet to be carried with you. Place another by a window sill in a sunny room. Take the last piece and bury it by a tree in your yard as an offering. If you don't have a yard, you may bury it in a flower pot or plant in your home or place outside the entrance of your home. Be patient...it takes time for pain to come to an end, but this spell will set you well on your way.


Ready to do some spell work

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Christmas Tree Tax - Did You Even Know?

We can not forget the "need" to tax Christmas trees!

I, for one, had not heard of this proposed tax, or fee, that was proposed on Tuesday by the Agriculture Department in the Federal Register. According to sources, this "fee" was to promote the Christmas tree growers, as they wanted a stable source of revenue to fund a new marketing campaign.

This was described by one Representative, Steve Scalise, R-La., as being a "Grinch" type of fee and vowed to fight it.

Today, spokesman Matt Lehrich of the White House, stated that the administration is putting a stop to this proposal.

Of course those supporting the "fee" stated that this was not a tax....go figure, right? The concern was that this "fee" would be passed on to consumers. The National Christmas Tree Association said that the program "is not expected to have any impact on the final price consumers pay for their Christmas trees." Really? Really? Well where does this fee come from? Those selling the trees are just supposed to fork over an additional cost for each and every tree and NOT pass it on to the consumers? Right, sure, haha. Since when?

Amazing that this was even proposed, taking up Administration time, effort and tax dollars to even discuss it. Any other organization would simply have hiked the price of whatever it was they were selling.

The reasoning is sort of weak to me, to improve the image of the Christmas tree and the industry? Lol, as far as I know, Christmas trees, for the majority, will always be there...and have been since I can remember.


Christmas tree ready to tax!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

All Saints Day Soul Cakes - Recipe

Some historic treats for All Saint's Day, Samhain, Halloween, etc. Soul cakes originated in ancient Europe. They were handed out by folks during the day and upon evening they were placed upon the resting places of deceased ancestors to ease relief to the souls. These were gifts to the poor and needy in exchange for prayers for those who have recently passed. In modern times, they have become Halloween treats to hand out to those who show up at your door.

Here is one of many recipes for All Saints Day Soul Cakes:

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 cups of regular oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup of butter
  • 1 cup of molasses
  • 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 2 1/2 cups of flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2/3 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. ginger
  • 1/4 cup of milk
  • 1 tsp. baking soda

Directions:
1) Grease an 8-inch square baking pan and set it aside. If you don't have an 8-inch pan, you can use any pan with dimensions that add up to 32 inches. This is the measurement of the amount of space you will need for the amount of cake mixture you are making.

2) Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F before you start to Make All Saints Day soul cakes.

3) Melt the butter and molasses in a pan over a low heat. This mixture will burn if left too long or melted over high heat.

4) Remove the mixture from the fire when melted and stir it once in a while to prevent clumps.

5) Mix the flour, oatmeal, ginger, salt, brown sugar and the cream of tartar in a large bowl. Set this bowl aside for now.

6) Mix the milk and baking soda in a separate bowl. Mix slowly with a fork to avoid creating froth in the mixture.

7) Pour the butter and molasses mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients. Mix this thoroughly with a fork until the mixture starts to stick to the sides of the bowl.

8) Pour in the milk and baking soda mixture. Continue to mix everything with a fork to be sure it all blends in together.

9) Place the sticky dough into your greased pan.

10) Place the pan in the center rack of your oven and leave your cake to bake for about an hour.

11) Check the cake after about 45 minutes. Stick a toothpick in the middle to see how it is progressing. If the toothpick comes out dry, your cake is done.

12) Remove the pan from the oven and set it in a safe place to cool.

13) Take the cake out of the pan and slice it into several pieces.

14) Garnish your cake slices with powdered sugar or butter and a sprinkling of brown sugar and cinnamon. Serve.

You can garnish your soul cake with other ingredients of your choice. For instance, you can try powdered sugar over sliced fruit in a light syrup.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Samhain - All Hallow's Eve - Halloween: Description and Video

Enjoying Samhain - The Celtic New Year

Purpose: Samhain (which is supposed to be pronounced sow-en, though some modern Pagans pronounce it as spelled) is the most important holy night of the year. In fact, it is considered the Celtic New Year. It is believed to be the evening in which the veil between the realm of the living and the dead is thinnest, allowing members of the spirit realm to walk the earth in great numbers.

It is thereby considered the evening where our loved ones who have gone over to the other side of the veil are honored with a special feast. This is certainly the reason All Saint's Day was created by the Roman Catholic Church to celebrate honored individuals who have passed on, as well as the similar All Souls Day, which honors the memories of our individual loved one's who have passed on. The association with spirits of the dead walking the earth, as well as faeries and other etheric beings roaming the material plane in large numbers that evening, is probably the basis for the modern Halloween's emphasis on ghosts and goblins, and the popular stereotypical image of the witch as a swarthy old crone with green skin was derived from negative images of real witches as being corrupt harbingers of evil or mischief. The jack o' lantern, a still popular decoration, is derived from the image used by ancient Pagans to keep unwelcome spirits from the hearth during the celebration. Calls to your ancestors and loved ones for assistance is appropriate for those practicing spell work on this day, as is spell work for endings and calling upon the Crone aspect of the Goddess.

The God symbolically dies of old age at this point, though the Mother Goddess is now pregnant with the reborn Sun God in her womb.

Associated Stones:  Obsidian, onyx, carnelian

Other Names: All Hallow's Eve, Ancestor Night, Feast of the Dead, Halloween

Christian Equivalent: All Saint's Day (Halloween itself is celebrated commercially, but is not considered a holy day by Christianity), and All Soul's Day

Day: October 31

Our Samhain Altar - 2010



Samhain Offering

Monday, October 3, 2011

Wall Street Protests - Fueled By George Carlin? - Video

This story caught my attention running on the Huffington Post.... Now, I am not in total agreement with what all The Post had to say about this, but I do agree that it certainly looks like maybe the folks of these recent, ongoing and spreading protests, may well have reached the point that George Carlin did in the not too distant past.  I am sharing his video here and I think you can see where the Nation may be heading and what these protests are actually all about.  I do wish that George was still alive to see these protests taking place. Caution: Do not view the video if you are sensitive to harsh and vulgar language.

George Carlin ~ The American Dream

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Days of Celebration - The Wiccan Sabbats

Once again, I find myself receiving requests for information from various sources about one subject.   Seems like interest comes in droves at times!  I will share this article from my website, A Rainbow of Spirituality, to provide some enlightenment to those who seek answers.

Every religion honors special days of the year set aside for celebrations of various events
that are important to the specific religion's theology, and Wicca is certainly no exception. The Wiccans annually celebrate eight special holidays, or Sabbats, derived from the French word meaning "to frolic and revel." The purpose of this section is to provide information on each Sabbat, the day it is usually celebrated on (minor disagreements are evident among different traditions and practitioners), various other names of each Sabbat, and what the holiday is actually celebrating. Most of these Sabbats will be familiar to the non-Wiccan, as the Christians have adapted most Pagan celebrations into its own holidays, making a few cosmetic changes in the process, and I have endeavored to specify the Christian equivalent of each holiday wherever possible. The Roman Catholic Church undoubtedly did this in order to make it easier for the Pagans to be converted to the new religion. Hence, most Pagan holidays have been "Christianized" by the clergy of the Church. All of these holidays encompass the Wheel of the Year (sometimes called the "Wheel of Life" for obvious reasons), a circular symbol used to illustrate the holidays and their effect on the Wiccan consciousness throughout the year. You will notice that each of the Sabbats taken together is symbolic of human existence, as well as every living thing in nature, utilizing the Goddess and God to personify the travel from birth to death to eventual rebirth in an unending, oscillating cycle.

Here, then, are each of the Sabbats:
SAMHAIN

Associated Stones:  Obsidian, onyx, carnelian
Other Names: All Hallow's Eve, Ancestor Night, Feast of the Dead, Halloween
Christian Equivalent: All Saint's Day (Halloween itself is celebrated commercially, but is not considered a holy day by Christianity), and All Soul's Day
Day: October 31
Purpose: Samhain (which is supposed to be pronounced sow-en, though some modern Pagans pronounce it as spelled) is the most important holy night of the year. In fact, it is considered the Celtic New Year. It is believed to be the evening in which the veil between the realm of the living and the dead is thinnest, allowing members of the spirit realm to walk the earth in great numbers. It is thereby considered the evening where our loved ones who have gone over to the other side of the veil are honored with a special feast. This is certainly the reason All Saint's Day was created by the Roman Catholic Church to celebrate honored individuals who have passed on, as well as the similar All Souls Day, which honors the memories of our individual loved one's who have passed on. The association with spirits of the dead walking the earth, as well as faeries and other etheric beings roaming the material plane in large numbers that evening, is probably the basis for the modern Halloween's emphasis on ghosts and goblins, and the popular stereotypical image of the witch as a swarthy old crone with green skin was derived from negative images of real witches as being corrupt harbingers of evil or mischief. The jack o' lantern, a still popular decoration, is derived from the image used by ancient Pagans to keep unwelcome spirits from the hearth during the celebration. Calls to your ancestors and loved ones for assistance is appropriate for those practicing spell work on this day, as is spell work for endings and calling upon the Crone aspect of the Goddess.

The God symbolically dies of old age at this point, though the Mother Goddess is now pregnant with the reborn Sun God in her womb.


WINTER SOLSTICE

Associated Stones: Bloodstone, garnet, ruby
Other Names: Yule, Winter Finding, Saturnalia
Christian Equivalent: Christmas
Day: December 21
Purpose: Winter Solstice celebrates the rebirth of the Sun God into infancy. All the major pantheons of deities have their version of the Sun God: The Greco-Roman Dionysus/Bacchus, the Egyptian Osiris, and the Norse Balder, just to name a few. Many myths exist to describe a kind and beloved being who dies and is subsequently reborn. The Christians adapted this day as the "official" birthday of Jesus Christ, the great prophet that Christian theology revolves around, and who has been deified as the Christian equivalent of the Sun God (the death and resurrection story of Jesus was by no means original, but has its variants in Pagan religions far older than Christianity). This day also celebrates the return of the sun, as the days begin to grow longer.

The Christian practice of putting up a Christmas Tree derives from the ancient Pagan tradition of bringing a yule tree in the home in order to welcome the nature spirits into the festivities of the day. The burning of the yule log derives from an ancient Germanic custom in honor of the god Thor, to whom yule wood was considered sacred.

The concept of Santa Claus is also distinctly Pagan. The image of this portly, joyous being derives from three main sources, each described below.

As for the first source, Santa Claus is partly an updated version of the Pagan Holly King, a benign and possibly devalued god-form who rules the year from the Summer Solstice to the Winter Solstice. On this day, he engages his rival, the Oak King, who rules from just after Winter Solstice to the beginning of the Summer Solstice, in a symbolic "combat," ending with the Holly King's "death" (he will be reborn and retake rulership of the Wheel of the Year from the Oak King in the summer). The modern image of Santa Claus in many ways resembles the Holly King, since the latter's colors were green and red (today considered the official "Christmas colors," as well as colors being popular for the garb of many types of elves and nature spirits), reindeers were a sacred animal to him (note the mostly Germanic names of Santa's reindeer), and who was said to be accompanied by elves who worshipped nature alongside him. Elves are a staple of Pagan belief, but are absent in modern Christian theology, which further underscores the Pagan origins of the Santa Claus image. This, of course, is the origin of the idea that elves were the "helpers" of Santa Claus in his toy-making duties.

The second source for the modern image of Santa Claus is the king of the Norse deities, Odin, who, according to Germanic tradition, walked the earth this night and granted "gifts" such as wisdom and prosperity to the virtuous; this is the original origin of the act of gift giving on Christmas. Though Odin was far from a joyous being, and his sometimes severe sense of justice was often beyond the ability of mortals to comprehend, he bore a superficial resemblance to the modern image of Santa Claus in that he was often depicted in the Germanic myths as resembling an elderly (albeit quite robust) man with a white beard, though unlike the modern image of Santa Class (often referred to today as "Sinter Klass" in some Northern nations), Odin wasn't corpulent, and was missing one eye (he sacrificed it to the Well of Mimir in exchange for the gift of omniscience), thus causing him to wear an eye patch.

The third source of the modern version of Santa Claus (which cemented the gift giving legend in the eyes of modern Christians completely) are from historical records of a kindly 6th century bishop who made toys and distributed them to needy kids each year at a certain time of the year, which more or less established the popular idea that Christmas is primarily for kids. This bishop was thus canonized by the Catholic Church as Saint Nick. It should be noted that the imagery associated with the modern Santa Claus in the Dark Ages and Middle Ages often depicted a violent hairy man of the wild, also emblematic of various Pagan species of solitary fay (or "faerie"), before the modern, jolly image based on more benign imagery and archetypes took its place.

The evolution of these various images finally reached their apex by the 19th century, and it was then that modern, familiar image of Santa Claus was born.

Hence, due to the fact that Santa Claus is in many ways a 'modernized' version of the classical Holly King, it can be said that he actually exists as a part of astral reality, and modern Wiccans pay homage to him in this manner, rather than contriving a whimsical story to children that Santa Claus is actually a seemingly immortal flesh and blood elderly man of material reality who literally physically travels to every home in the world on Christmas night, enters via the chimney, and leaves physical gifts behind for the children [which puts many parents in the position of explaining the popular company logos adorning the boxes of many of those gifts; this conundrum was actually dealt with in an animated Christmas commercial in the early 1980's, where Santa Claus was depicted as actually shopping in contemporary toy stores, such as K-Mart and Toys 'R' Us, for all of these gifts, rather than building them from scratch, as many of the popular stories describe his elves as doing! Both building or shopping for that number of toys every year would end up costing Santa many millions of dollars per year if he was truly a being of material reality, and astute children will often pick up on this discrepancy!].

As stated above, the God is a newborn at this time, being dutifully nursed by the Goddess.


IMBOLC

Associated Stones: Amethyst, turquoise
Other Names: Sometimes spelled Imbolg.
Christian Equivalent: Candlemas
Day: February 2
Purpose: Imbolc celebrates the eventual return of spring. Fertility rites are important and appropriate now. The ancient Celts honored the fertility goddess Brigid at this time, who was adopted into Catholic theology as Saint Bridget. The God is now being raised by the Goddess as a young boy.
SPRING EQUINOX

Associated Stones: Aquamarine, moonstone, rose quartz
Other Names: Ostara, Eostre's Day
Christian Equivalent: Easter
Day: March 21
Purpose: Ostara is a celebration of the thriving fertility of the land. The holiday is named after the Norse fertility goddess Eostre, also called Ostara, to which this day was held sacred by the Germanic tribes. Spellwork for abundance is appropriate, as are continued fertility spells. The word 'Easter' derives from the name of the goddess Eostre, who was honored on this day. The rabbit and eggs are ancient Pagan symbols of fertility for obvious reasons, and were adapted by Christianity into the whimsical image of the Easter Bunny delivering colored eggs, as the decoration of eggs was also an old Pagan custom of celebrating the holiday. The origin of the concept of the Easter Bunny and his famous practice of delivering Easter eggs can be traced back to the following story from Germanic legend.

Long ago, according to legend, many animals attempted to win the favor of the goddess Eostre, but as she is so difficult to impress, all of them failed utterly. However, one day on March 21, a rabbit decided to attempt to impress her by taking an egg from a local hen's nest and decorating it beautifully with paint. Much to the surprise of the other animals, Eostre was extremely enamored by the beautiful gift, and as a result, she gave the rabbit the task of creating and delivering such beautifully decorated eggs, which he carried in a basket, to everyone in the local villages on this same day every year in the future.

The God is now grown into adolescence, and he feels the first yearnings for the Goddess, who is no longer viewed as his mother.
BELTANE

Associated Stones: Bloodstone, sapphire
Other Names: May Day, Walpurgisnacht, sometimes spelled Bealtaine
Christian Equivalent: May Day
Day: May 1
Purpose: Beltane celebrates the successful beginning of the growing season, as well as honoring human sexuality (which the Christians disdained, and still do in matters of religion, though to a lesser extent, today). Many May Day traditions culled from the ancient Pagans are still carried on in various forms at the present time. The nut hunt that goes on today is a variation of ancient symbolism: the nuts symbolized the human testicles to the ancient Pagans (and is probably where the modern slang for testes being referred to as "nuts" comes from...honest!). The ancient Greeks honored the promiscuous nature god Pan and the nymphs at this time, and spell work for love and sex would be especially powerful now.

Other modern practices carried over from ancient times for this holiday include dancing around the maypole, which was symbolic of the male phallus to the Pagan cultures in the past, and of jumping over the fire, something women used to do for blessings and fertility (as a masculine element, the fire was also seen as a symbolic phallus). Of course, modern people in societies with a Judeo-Christian ideology have obviously long since forgotten the original basis of these activities.
At this time, the God and the Goddess have now become young lovers.


SUMMER SOLSTICE

Associated Stones: Emerald, jade, lapis, tiger's eye
Other Names: Midsummer, Litha
Christian Equivalent: None
Day: June 22
Purpose: The Summer Solstice is the celebration of the full growth of the harvest. The growing season is in full bloom and nature is most bountiful. Spellwork for childbirth and good health are very appropriate, as is spelling for abundance and money. The Christians, curiously, have not adapted this holiday into a corresponding summer celebration, though they probably have a day for saints earmarked for the occasion.

The Holly King retakes the rulership of the seasons from the Oak King at this time.

During this time of the Wheel of the Year, the God is now middle aged, and the Goddess remains his consort.
LAMMAS

Associated Stones: Citrine, peridot
Other Names: Lughnasadh, Lunasa
Christian Equivalent: None, except for any celebration honoring St. Michael
Day: August 1
Purpose: Lammas is the celebration of the darkening of the year, as winter comes ever closer, and it entails the thanking of the Goddess and God for the past harvest and bounty of the land earlier in the year. Spellwork for the arts is very appropriate, as this holiday honored the Celtic god Lugh, which is why it is often called Lughnasadh (though I refer to it by its alternate name Lammas here to be responsive to those readers who are not Celtic Wiccan). Lugh was later adopted by the Roman Catholics as Saint Michael.

At this time, the God is elderly, and his time with the Goddess is near its end.


AUTUMN EQUINOX

Associated Stones: Amethyst, topaz
Other Names: Mabon
Christian Equivalent: Thanksgiving (though it occurs much later on the Christian calendar in America)
Day: September 21
Purpose: This day celebrates the second harvest. The Greek god Dionysus, the patron god of wine and revelry, and his Roman equivalent, Bacchus, was honored here. Thus, spell work for happiness and revelry (i.e., partying!), along with invocations of gratitude to the Goddess and God (or any deity who embodies the harvest and abundance) for having sufficient food on the table this year and the company of many loved one's with whom to share it with, is very appropriate at this time.

It is a common opinion in the Wiccan community (which I wholeheartedly share) that the Christian celebration of Thanksgiving, which ostensibly celebrates the ill-fated peace between the Pilgrims and the Native Americans, though not truly religious in a strict sense (but nevertheless celebrated by modern Christians, particularly since the Pilgrims themselves were Christian), is the modern equivalent of the Mabon celebration of abundance. Hence, due to the similarity of celebration and the aforementioned thanks for abundance, which is what the Pilgrims were celebrating, I can state my belief that this holiday is a takeoff of the Autumn Equinox without stretching the imagination too far.

This day is named for the Celtic god Mabon, the divine child of the Celtic war goddess Morrigan, who was later "Christianized" by the Roman Catholic Church as Saint Andrew (which is also an amalgamation with the well known friend and disciple of Jesus Christ).

At this point in the Wheel of the Year, the God has died of old age, but the Goddess is pregnant with the reincarnated Sun God, who will be reborn on the Winter Solstice. 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Native American Sacred Medicines

During recent days, I have had several ask questions about the information covered in this post.  Maybe there is something going on in the spiritual planes that is making folks seek this information out.  With that in mind, I decided to post the article here and share the knowledge with others that may be seeking such.

Herbs/Incense
Sweetgrass, sage, cedar and tobacco encompass the four sacred plants. Burning these is a sign of deep spirituality in Native practices. Cedar and sage are burned to drive out negative forces when prayer is offered. Sweetgrass, which signifies kindness, is burned to invite good spirits to enter. Participants also use these purification rituals to smudge regalia, drums and other articles before taking part in a pow-wow. Tobacco is considered the most sacred of plants.

Rattles
Rattles are shaken to call up the spirit of life when someone is sick. The Elder also uses a rattle to summon the spirits governing the four directions to help participants who are seeking spiritual and physical cleansing to start a “new” life during a sweat lodge ceremony.

Drums
Very sacred objects, drums represent the heartbeat of the nation, the pulse of the universe. Different sizes are used depending on the ceremonial purposes.

Pipes
Pipes are used during both private and group ceremonies, the prayer itself being wafted through the smoke of the burning plant material.

Feathers
Feathers are the connection to the "air" forces; air being one of the four elements. The remaining three elements are water, fire, and earth. A healer can incorporate the use of feathers in different ways. The feather is useful in cleaning auras. Different types of feathers are used depending on the need of the client.

Sweat Lodge
Used mainly for communal prayer purposes, the Sweat Lodge may also provide necessary ceremonial settings for spiritual healing, purification, as well as fasting. Most fasts require a sweat ceremony before and after the event.

Medicine Pouches
Prescribed by an Elder, plant material can also be worn in a medicine pouch by a person seeking the mercy and protection of the spirits of the Four Directions.

The Medicine Wheel
The symbol of the circle holds a place of special importance in Native beliefs. For the Native American, whose culture is traditional rather than literate, the significance of the circle has always been expressed in ritual practice and in art. The lives of men and women, as individual expressions of the Power of the World move in and are nourished by an uninterrupted circular/spiral motion. This circle is often referred to as the Medicine Wheel. Human beings live, breathe and move, giving additional impetus to the circular movement, provided they live harmoniously, according to the circle’s vibratory movement. Every seeker has a chance to eventually discover a harmonious way of living with their environment according to these precepts.

Role of Spirit & Connection:

A major difference between Native-American and conventional medicine concerns the role of spirit and connection. Although spirituality has been a key component of healing through most of mankind’s history, modern medicine eschews it, embracing a mechanistic view of the body fixable pursuant to physical laws of science.

In contrast, Native-American medicine considers spirit, whose life-force manifestation in humans is called, ni by the Lakota and nilch’i by the Navajo, an inseparable element of healing. Not only is the patient’s spirit important but the spirit of the healer, the patient’s family, community, and environment, and the medicine, itself. More importantly, healing must take in account the dynamics between these spiritual forces as a part of the universal spirit.

Instead of modern medicine’s view of separation that focuses on fixing unique body parts in distinct individuals separate from each other and the environment, Native Americans believe we are all synergistically part of a whole that is greater than the sum of the parts; healing must be consider within this context. Specifically, we are all connected at some level to each other, Mother Earth (i.e., nature), Father Sky, and all of life through the Creator (Iroquois), Great Spirit (Lakota), Great Mystery (Ojibway), or Maker of All Things Above (Crow).

This sense of wholeness and connection is implied by the concluding phrase of healing prayers and chants “All my Relations,” which dedicates these invocations to all physical and spiritual relations that are a part of the Great Spirit. To metaphorically describe our universal connection, the Lakota use the phrase mitakuye oyasin – “We are all related,” while Southwest pueblo tribes, who consider corn as a life symbol, state “We are all kernels on the same corncob.”

In Native Science: Natural Laws of Interdependence (2000), Dr. Gregory Cajete uses modern science’s chaos theory to support the Native-American concept of connection. Sometimes called the “butterfly effect,” this theory postulates that a butterfly’s wing flap may initiate a disturbance that ultimately leads to a hurricane or another phenomenon across the world. Whether it is this flap, a prayer for healing, or one’s stand against oppression, chaos theory, as well as Native American philosophy, implies that everything is related and has an influence no matter how small.

Moreover, we all have “butterfly power” to create from the inherent chaos of our universe, which Cajete describes as “not simply a collection of objects, but rather a dynamic, ever-flowing river of creation inseparable from our own perceptions.”

Cultural Rebirth:

Although you cannot appreciate Native-American medicine without its spiritual dynamics, surprisingly, the practice of Native-American spirituality was banned in the land of religious freedom until the 1978 passage of the American Indian Religious Freedom Act. For example, in Coyote Medicine: Lessons from Native American Healing (1997), Dr. Lewis Mehl-Madrona tells how he risked jail for attending an early 1970’s healing ceremony.

Because of this ban, which forbid congregating and keeping sacred objects, much of Native-American healing was driven underground or to extinction. It is the equivalent of telling physicians they can’t practice medicine if they do surgeries or prescribe drugs. Since the prohibition’s lifting, however, world-wide interest in Native-American wisdom has soared, in part, because it is perceived as an antidote to modern society’s soul-depleting and environment-damaging aspects.

Disability:

The idea of wholeness is paramount in understanding Native-American perception of disability. Unlike many cultures that shun people with disabilities, Native Americans honor and respect them. They believe that a person weak in body is often blessed by the Creator as being especially strong in mind and spirit. By reducing our emphasis on the physical, which promotes our view of separation from our fellow man and all that is, a greater sense of connection with the whole is created, the ultimate source of strength.

Overall, in treating physical disability, Native-American healers emphasize quality of life, getting more in touch with and honoring  inherent gifts, adjusting one’s mindset, and learning new tools. By so doing, the individual’s humanity is optimized.

This article is posted from my website: A Rainbow of Spirituality

Friday, July 8, 2011

Shapeshifting - Taking On A Different Form

Shape shifting is a type of meditation on the relationship between humankind and nature, in particular animals. Shape shifting is based on assuming certain characteristics of an animal. Traits and talents are also included in these characteristics. These characteristics, traits, and talents are assumed for a limited time and for a particular purpose. A shapeshifter is able to change shape either at will or under special circumstances.

Shapeshifter are not just human; they are also animals and plants. Shape shifting ability depends on the level or degree of energy or quality of life the creature possesses. It is more difficult for plants because they are stationary, and least difficult for human beings because they are most able to understand the dynamics involved. Animals, including humans, are mobile, and it follows that animals are adept at moving and directing energy. It is, as humans, our innate nature, our state of being.

Chinese Taoism

For Chinese Taoists, there are two methods or purposes for shape shifting:


  • One, to strengthen or improve your vital essence by the study of metaphysics and nature.
  • Two, to share your vital essence with others. This shift can be accomplished through meditation, channeling, dancing, and singing - as well as chanting, ritual, and making love. More or less, any situation where people merge together as One and build energy.

Toltec Shamanism

Toltec shamans shapeshift and gather energy by pulling together the power from the universe; for instance, from dead stars. Through a complex set of physical movements, breath and intention, the Toltec shaman gathers and collects energy to be used toward specific purposes.

Celtic Shamanism

The Celtic shaman also understands that things never truly die; they merely change form. Thus, the cycle of life becomes more understood. All things continuously change shape. A child grows to adulthood to old age to death and again. Everything is continuously reborn through shape shifting, and the elemental components are constantly recycling.

A glass of water is a good example of these changes. If given a glass of water, you cannot destroy it; it is impossible to destroy the water. If poured our, the water becomes part of whatever you pour it into or onto. If evaporated, it later becomes rain. If drank, it becomes part of the body then waste that is recycled into the Earth. In other words, like all other things, it cannot be destroyed. Nothing can be destroyed. All is ever-beginning, never-ending. All things merely shift shape. This very strongly suggests that shape shifting is a natural state of existence.

How It's Done

Human reason and logic do not necessarily apply to shape shifting. To shift into another person, animal, or elemental energy means being privy to the secrets of a state of being where you are able to feel the unexplainable, the mysterious. By setting aside known and accepted natural laws, like inertia, you can merge into the body of any animal, plant, rock, body of water - anything you choose. This merging allows you to experience the world of instinct. This world is frightening to most humans who have separated themselves from nature and from the "natural" state of being. As you learn more about shifting, and abandon the structures and forces that hold you to the Earth, time and space become very fluid and soft. This creates a gateway to Oneness, a threshold of awareness where your perspective alters and changes permanently.

Once you move through that threshold, you are transformed. It becomes a metamorphosis. The fluidity of reality becomes "normal" and you realize you are not a fixed human being on this planet but a mutidimensional being with the potential of experiencing an infinite number of lifetimes, worlds, and shapes. One important thing to remember in practicing shape shifting is that nothing is what it seems to be, especially time, matter, and space. On a very basic level, shifting allows for a richer and fuller perspective of life and experience. As a way to gather information and build magickal skill, shape shifting connects you with your creative ability and your spiritual center, regardless of your religious, philosophical, or cultural preferences.

The key to learning how to shapeshift is merging, sometimes called the "thirteenth factor." Merging, or the thirteenth factor is the point where there is no division between body, mind and spirit. Everything becomes Oneness, and all knowledge and wisdom are readily accessible in this place of being, depending on your intentions and desire. Merging is the mystic state where you become one with all things. This occurs naturally when you are in a beautiful nature area, and suddenly you feel yourself becoming part of the trees, the waterfall, and the rocks.

It also occurs when you fall in love. You merge and meld with your partner. Another example is the bonding that happens between parent and child, or between twins. The Two Main Components of the merging process are breath and intention. First, your intention needs to be specific, simple, and directed. Focus on the intention before, during and after merging. Second, pay close attention to how you are breathing. Relax. Use "in, 2, 3, 4 - out, 2, 3, 4." Hold your breath briefly in between. Repeat this as many times as needed for you to relax. After practice, you will find that merging becomes automatic.

When you merge into an animal, you enter the energetic being of the animal, stepping into catness or wolfness, and so on. It is as if you enter the domain of essence, becoming the animal, almost like becoming a mirror of the animal. Each animal becomes an aspect of yourself, your eyes, your legs, your heart become one with the eagle, the horse, the lion, etc.

When you incarnate into the physical, you take form and become flesh, embodied and defined. Definition gives temporary form and shape as a human being. Shape shifting allow you to briefly step out of that form. It also allows you to move out of "ordinary" reality into multidimensional awareness, realizing you can be here and there at the same time. It is a strange feeling at first, until you accustom yourself to this new perspective. With practice, you can eventually learn to experientially be in several places (worlds) at once, hence the concept of simultaneous lifetimes.

Done at Three Different Levels

There are three levels of shape shifting: mental, physical (usually accompanied by mental), and astral.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Native Philosophy on Healing

In the philosophy of healing, disease is caused by improper relationship to the natural world, spirit world, community, and/or one's own spirit and soul.  Therefore, illness is always environmental.  In one form or another, the environment provides the key context for illness, health, and the processes and expressions of healing that revolved around the reestablishment and maintenance of balance.

Breath is seen as being connected to the breath and the spirit of the Earth itself.  We breathe the same air that the plants breathe; we breathe the same air as the animals; and we depend upon the same kinds of invisible elements as plants and animals.  Therefore, we share a life of co-creation in an interrelated web of relationship that has to be understood, respected, and manipulated to maintain right relationships among important parts.  Natural elements such as Sun, fire, water, air, wind, snow, rain, mountains, lakes, rivers, trees, volcanoes, and a host of other entities plays roles symbolically and physically in the expression and understanding of the ways of healing developed by indigenous people.

Wake Up!

At the heart of all spirited traditions,  one tends to find the same thing, for we all bleed red.  By that, I mean we are all human.  Please do not let me give you the impression that the American Indian way is the only way, or the best way.  It is simple OUR way.  When you find me critical of your culture it is because the world needs a wake-up call.  There are things in all cultures that can contribute to the welfare of all, not just a privileged few.

As humans are by nature tribal animals, it seems essential to me that if the human world is to be saved and served, so to speak, then it had better go look at its roots.  Prophesies from many of nations have been warning us for some time that we are at a turning point of great consequence.  Either we regain our spiritual footing or we are doomed to more poverty, more war, and the further destruction of the Earth - destruction to the point where She can no longer support us and, like a cancer, we will be excised.  We have become like an ungrateful child who is poisoning the very breast that feeds him.  If I seem harsh, do not take it personal, racial, or cultural - but there looms a great fear and deep sorrow for all people inside of me.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Living Earth

We have an ancient and indigenous awareness of the Earth as a living being. We attune to her through our rhythmic sleeping and waking and our receptivity to the magnetic, solar, and elemental forces. Her tectonic, ionic, magnetic and organic systems are analogous to those of our bodies.

Let's consider the metaphorical relationship of our body systems to the five elements that I work with in my healing and magickal work, as well as of the ancient Greeks. (The Chinese and Hindus also use five elements of different names.) The solar and fiery element corresponds to our nervous system. The airy and gaseous element is related to our breathing, vocalization, and hearing, and the watery element to our circulatory and lymphatic systems. The earthly element is related to our skeletal and muscular systems. Our chakra system, which receives cosmic energy, is most related to the ether element. I have recently been asked, "How do these elements and bodily processes affect our relationship with the Earth as a living organism?" The following is an explanation from my perspective.

Fire:  We experience the fire element in the desert, the flowers, the auroras, and lightening, which are manifestations of the Earth's eye, brain, and nervous system. We ourselves are electromagnetic systems that are affected by electromagnetic charges in the environment. Electricity is a conduit in both our nervous system and in hour chemical processes.

From fire comes light and darkness, the sources of color. Our eyes receive light waves from the Sun and convert them into photochemical and biochemical pulses which then are decoded by the brain. Both electromagnetism in the body and the light in the eyes are sourced from the Sun.

The Sun itself is like a rotating pinwheel, flinging fiery particles out into space. Upon entering the zones of the poles, these radiated energies stimulate the atmospheric molecules to glow in the auroras - somewhat like gas in a neon tube. The fire of the electrically charged particles from the Sun is deflected by the Van Allen Belt - a ring of particles and cosmic energy that penetrates the outer layers of the Earth's magnetosphere. The magnetosphere acts as the Earth's brain, receiving messages from the Sun and decoding them. Magnetism then enters and exits through the planet's deep interior through the poles.

Volcanic matter is a mutable fireflow within the bones and heart of the Earth. The fire of the desert is part of the Earth's metabolic heating and cooling system. Here, seeds drift before the Sun and reach for the dew in the morning. Underground waters, like blood, upwell in hidden places under the searing Sun.

Air:  The air element consists of all the atmospheric manifestations - the jet stream, the clouds, the rain and the biosphere cycles. Weather, wind, and sound all shape the energy of air. As temperatures change, hot air drifts up and the cooling air sinks down, creating a gaseous swirl. Air particles drift with the clouds, creep across mountains, and sweep into canyons as the breath of the Earth.

Cosmic rays descend through the etheric noctilucent clouds that spread between the ionosphere and mesosphere and fan out towards the ozone layer. Below the ozone is the stratosphere, where mother-of-pearl clouds suspend in midair. Miles below that are the cirrus and cumulonimbus clouds. Below these lies the naked Earth, receiving rain.

The ozone umbrella is the Earth's most far-reaching spiritual aura. Ozone protects us from ultraviolet rays, converting them into heat and chemical energy. Radioactive fallout from nuclear testing and fluorocarbide residue from industrial production have caused ozone depletion, gouging holes in the Earth's auric field and exposing all life to disease.

The Earth's breath gives voice through the sounds of the winds, tides, and creatures. Sound arises from the rhythmic compression of air particles in vibrating bodies. All such molecular movement creates sound, though it may not be heard by human ears.

Water:  Water is the lifeblood of the Earth, as it is to us. Holy creatures slither and swim in the flowing dance of rivers and seas. Springs bring minerals to the surface and distribute them through the tributaries of the planet's circulatory system. A watercourse brings green to the ground and refreshes us with its scent. Lakes give nourishment by storing water, heat, and chemicals in high places that are otherwise arid.

The salt density in our blood is similar to that of the ocean, whose pitch-black depths call us back to the primordial womb that gave us birth. Here subtle energy generates the vital force of life out of the yin darkness. The swiftness of the riptide and the slow undulations of the deeper currents are part of the Earth's intensive rhythms.

Malleable and permeable, water unites. All movements are part of this element. The spinning of the Earth's axis creates the Coriolis force, twisting the oceanic currents to the right in the northern hemisphere and to the left in the southern. The resulting spiral - carrying the chaos of sand and sea - generates subtle energy that vitalizes all life systems.

As oxygen and blood mix in our veins, so the trade winds set the North Equatorial currents in motion, the great stream deflected by the spin of the Earth. This colossal, reverberating sea circulates the force of life from continent to continent, creating weather from its cyclonic eddies.

Earth:  The earth element is the most physical, the most formed and rigid. Rocks hold the Earth's memory - as in the fossilized protozoa and other simple life-forms contained in layers of limestone. Lying deeper are the slates born of clay, and deeper still, the glittering micashists, and gneiss. The primal rock is granite - composed of quartz, feldspar, and hornblende. The igneous rocks - granite, porphyry, greenstones, basalt and lava - break through the sandstone and limestone layers during volcanic eruptions. These diverse derivatives and structures of the Earth derive from their contrasting interactions with water and fire. The story of the planet is the story of elemental conflict and regeneration through the undulations of time. In the earth element are buried seeds of all things, awaiting a new birth.

Plate tectonics reveal the Earth's skeletal and muscular system. Without these chiropractic adjustments to maintain harmony between structure and movement, cataclysmic Earth changes would result.

Ether:  Comprised of the eternal fusion of subtle energy and light, the etheric element permeates consciousness as well as the body of the Earth. The timeless etheric celebrates the unchanging and the changing. All landscapes, all elements, all forms live in this formless sea. Withdrawn, ether draws out everything to be itself. Invisible, it makes all things visible. Intangible, it touches all.

Note: The ancient idea of all-permeating ether or akasha was interpreted by Dr. Franz Anton Mesmer as a psychic fluid in which planets could create tides or flows of subtle energy. As a healer, he knew that illness resulted when the flows of subtle energy currents in the body were interrupted, thus depleting vital force.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Freedom

Everyday consciousness is flat because the will collapses when it lacks an objective, a long-range purpose. But a purpose is something that can be expressed in terms of knowledge. The answer, therefore, is to direct all one's conscious discipline to carrying the insight of intensity - consciousness into everday consciousness - which would mean, in effect, that everday consciousness could be attuned to purpose, and transcend its own limitations.

To our descendents, it will seem a grotesque absurdity that the human beings of the scientific age bumbled and stumbled through life in such a short-sighted manner, incapable of grasping the message that is presented to them so plainly by the moments of affirmative-consciousness, or by moments of crisis. It will be obvious that we are little better than imbeciles. It should be obvious that our problem is will-lessness, and the fragmentary nature of consciousness, then nothing can save us but a violent and determined attempt to achieve something that deserves the name of consciousness.

Freedom is experienced when you meet the challenges.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Native American Religion (Spirituality)

Background

What do we mean when we speak of Native American religion? Unlike Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam, it has no single founder. Unlike Judaism, it is not the ongoing story of a people with a strong sense of their own identity. Neither does it resemble Hinduism, with its ancient and all-inclusive adaptiveness. In a sense, Native American religion does not exist at all: There is no one religious expression common to the 250 distinct Native American peoples still surviving as America moves through the 21st century. And complicating the question even further is the fact that few Native American people today can say for sure how their ancestors worshiped before the onslaught of European immigrations: Too much death lies between the present and pre-Columbian America, too much cultural devastation, too many forced conversions to Christianity. The chain of elders preserving tradition was broken by disease and war. Many contemporary Native Americans interested in knowing their own heritage have found themselves in the peculiar position of needing to consult anthropologists for information.

But anthropology has its own problems. Serious attempts to study Native American culture did not begin until the mid-to-late 19th century, 200-300 years after the first European conquests, and 50-100 years after the beginning of serious western expansion. Many Native American people no longer lived in their sacred homelands, and numbers of eastern tribes had completely disappeared. Even when anthropological studies were undertaken, early reports frequently judged Native Americans by the values of European men, discounting their stores of wisdom, their religious insights, and their different approaches to gender roles. Often, the Native Americans interviewed didn't make anthropologists' jobs any easier: The Wintu of California had a saying that when the white men come, "...we will forget our songs." According to the Lakota, "If it was told to a white man, it is untrue." The Hopi learned early about anthropologists' love of publishing and permanently closed their ceremonials to all but their own people. The list could go on and on.

Anthropologists divide the Native American cultures of North America into seven groups: Eastern Woodlands, Southeastern, Plains, Plateau, Great Basin, Southwestern, and Northwest Coastal. Each of these geographical groupings contains many distinct peoples with only the broadest characteristics in common, each with their own culture and religious beliefs. Any attempt to briefly summarize such a rich variety of peoples -- as this page does -- is going to involve inexact generalizations: It can't be helped. Where space permits, examples appear from different tribal groups, but they do not begin to reflect the diversity of Native American spirituality.

Native American - Myth

What part do sacred stories and history play in Native American religion?

In Native American narratives, one can notice two kinds of time: A time before time, or outside time (mythic time), where things are not as they are here, and historical time, similar in most respects to contemporary life. In mythic time, no barriers exist between the spirit and physical worlds. Earth, animals, plants, and humans understand each others' languages. Spirit beings walk the earth openly and interact with human beings freely, sometimes helping, sometimes harming, sometimes mating with them. Gifted humans may venture into spirit realms -- these persons are often called shamans. Native American creation stories, migration accounts (stories of how a people found its way to the sacred homeland), and stories of culture heroes (those who gather the wisdom and rituals that hold a people together) are stories of mythic time. The winter counts of Plains peoples (pictographic summaries of passing years, each year symbolized by a memorable event) are examples of ordinary history.

Stories of mythic time often have the ability to bring the story's audience into that time -- into the non ordinary time of the spirit world. Storytelling among Native Americans -- when the story is of mythic time -- dissolves boundaries. Reenacting such a story overlaps the worlds even more powerfully, filling the people with the power existing in the original happening. The smoking of the Lakota pipe brings the spirit of its giver (White Buffalo Calf Woman) into their midst, as well as joining the smokers together in familial relationship with all of nature. Among the Iroquois, ritually donning a mask made in the image of the Great Defender, or humpbacked one, (assigned by the Creator to cure sickness) brings his healing power into a sickroom. 

Family: Narrative and ritual are as inseparable in Native American life as spirit and flesh. Much traditional ritual recreates myth, bringing the story's power into everyday life. White Buffalo Calf Woman's pipe is one example. Among the Northwest Coastal peoples, magnificent masked dancers recreate the mythic beginnings of their families, bringing the power of the founding being -- raven, killer whale, etc. -- into their midst.. Among the Huron, an annual ceremony dramatizes and fulfills individuals' significant night-dreams, thus bringing spiritual health to the whole community. The Navajo of the Southwest recreate the stories of the Yei, or Holy People, in their sand paintings, curing illness through the power of the overlapping spirit world.

Native American - Doctrine

How do traditional Native Americans explain their beliefs?

Traditional Native Americans have had little interest in developing what is thought of as religious doctrine. Their participation in nature and spirit does not lend itself easily to standing apart and analyzing. Inherited tradition, spiritual experiences of ordinary people and religious specialists, judgment of the elders, and the welfare of the people all interacted creatively in each generation to shape religious reality. Spirituality was a fluid thing, responding to changes in a variety of circumstances.

Significant dreams and visions played important roles in shaping beliefs. The 19th century movement known as the Ghost Dance, culminating among the Lakota in the massacre at Wounded Knee, originated in the west with one man's vision of the white race's defeat and the buffalo's return. The 19th century Iroquois prophet Handsome Lake almost single-handedly halted the disintegration of his people's religious traditions by his vision led institution of the Iroquois Long house religion. White Buffalo Calf Woman appeared among the Lakota sometime after 1500 and reshaped their whole approach to life.

Traditional Native American religion today has lost much of its fluidity. Like many dispossessed peoples, Native Americans often look on what remains of their original culture as infinitely precious -- too precious to risk losing. In this way, tradition can harden into an inflexible shell of traditionalism, no longer responsive to the people's experiences or to the changes around them. However, as more Native Americans seek to recapture the wisdom of past generations and apply it to their contemporary lives, their traditions will have a greater chance of revival, as well as ongoing transformation. In academic terms, Native American spirituality may be described as panentheism (deity/spirit present in, as well as beyond, everything). Such a world view assumes the existence of Spirit beyond the visible world, but also dwelling in all that is. Words like animism (belief in spirits in natural phenomena, such as trees, rocks, animals, fire) are commonly used to describe Native American religion, but when one neglects to include the broader presence of Spirit beyond physical nature, this explanation is incomplete. The Lakota concept of Wakan Tanka (most frequently translated as Great Spirit) illustrates panentheism well: Wakan Tanka is the Spirit over, under, and throughout all of the physical world, its guiding principle, present in individual phenomena yet not confined to it, not strictly singular nor plural, neither truly personal nor impersonal. Manitou/manitos of the Algonkians is a similar concept.

Native American Society

How Does American Spirituality Work Itself Out In The World?

Each Native American people handed down its own creation narratives and migration accounts, usually telling of creation by benevolent deities/spirits, who placed the people in their sacred homelands. These homelands often contained the site of a group's emergence from the earth in mythic time and were almost always seen as the world center, the most important and powerful site on earth, around which all else revolved -- and where ritual must be performed to be effective. Spiritually speaking, a Native American people's relationship to their homeland was more like that of a tree to the earth than of a European's attachment to his or her property. The various removals that tore Native Americans from their sacred lands truly left them rootless -- in the sense of a tree that is torn in two. Today, Great Basin peoples continue to pursue long-standing disputes with the federal government about its use of their Nevada homelands for military test ranges. The Black Hills of South Dakota, long the sacred homeland of the Lakota, but now teeming with tourist glitz, are the subject of lengthy, unresolved treaty violation suits by the Lakota people. The Navajo, Hopi, and Zuni of the Southwest are among the fortunate ones permitted to retain a core of their ancestral lands, thus enabling their traditions to survive more nearly intact.

There is no one pattern of religious structure in Native America. Remnants of the urban Mississippian priesthood still remained throughout much of the Southeast in the early contact period. In the urban cultures of the Southwest, each sacred society (called kivas by some) had its own ritual leaders or priests. Complex ceremonials and hierarchies characterized both areas. Among the Woodland peoples, a variety of religious practitioners thrived, specializing in various means of influencing the spirit world, healing, and foretelling the future. Some Great Basin groups sought out persons struck by lightning as their religious leaders. Shamans among the California Shasta tended to be the daughters of established female shamans. Among the Plains peoples, ordinary members of the community became spiritual leaders based on personal abilities. Various names describe the non-priestly religious leaders of Native America: medicine man or woman, shaman, diviner, herbalist, conjurer, healer, crystal gazer, and dreamer are only a few. Where one professional responsibility begins and another's ends is often unclear.

At the heart of traditional Native American society is the value placed on the welfare of the group as a whole. Selfless devotion to "the people" characterized almost all Native American groups. Southeastern leaders demonstrated their greatness by how well they cared for their people and how many spoils of war they could accumulate -- in order to give them all away. Willingness to suffer and die was assumed when the safety or survival of the group was at stake. As the future of the tribe, children were treasured and protected. Women were revered as life-bearers and wielded significant power in many councils. (Most Native American societies were matrilineal, tracing the descent of all children through the mother's line, rather than the father's.)

Most groups' names for themselves translate in their own languages as "the people," or "the humans," in contrast to all other groups, who were necessarily somewhat less than human. Small scale warfare with these other groups was an essential part of Native American life, a means of earning glory and respect and of acquiring slaves, possessions, and sometimes adopted family members to increase the group's strength. In pre-contact America, it never approached the levels of European inspired warfare, nor was its primary goal slaughter.

Native American - Ethics

How Do Native Americans Address Right and Wrong

Concepts of right and wrong in traditional Native American societies tend to be attached to actions that either promote or diminish the even flow of life -- the balance -- that must be kept at all times. Human beings have obligations to behave in certain ways toward all other aspects of creation. If these obligations are honored, harmony and balance are preserved. Poor relationships of any kind -- relationships that fail to follow patterns laid down in mythic time -- destroy the balance, whether it is a relationship between human and human, human and spirit, human and animal, or human and plant. The Navajo word hozho points to all of this. Although it is difficult to translate into English, its sense is of balance, harmony, beauty, and completeness. Wrong actions are those that disrupt balance and harmony, jeopardizing the well-being of a people and the cosmos as a whole. The Cherokee, a people who share characteristics of both Woodlands and Southeastern regions, developed a complex system of keeping this balance. In their world, all phenomena belonged to groups of similar beings, each of which had its opposite. Opposing groups must never be associated with each other except with strict controls and ritual limits. Men and women were members of two such groups (masculine and feminine), and their contacts were carefully controlled. Fire and water were another such pair.

A different, crucial kind of balance was achieved among human beings, animals, and plants. According to traditional Cherokee narratives, humankind's irresponsible killing of animals for food and clothing caused great resentment among the animals, who decided to infect humankind with a new disease every time an animal was killed. Plants took pity on the suffering humans and offered themselves, with their wisdom, as cures for the animal plagues. Ever since that time, plants have been allies of the Cherokee, and hunters have taken great care to follow proper rituals to honor the spirits of animals killed in the hunt. Each tribe developed its own unique formulas connecting human behavior to the patterns of the universe. Sometimes the resulting laws were as complex as those of the Mississippian priesthoods in the Southeast. Sometimes they laid subtle ceremonial requirements on the members of exclusive groups, such as the kivas of the Southwest or the warrior societies of the Plains. Sometimes they were simple and unambiguous, almost absorbed with mothers' milk. But in every case, they attempted to align the tribe's actions with spiritual realities perceived in the universe around them.

Native American - Experience

What is the nature of religious experience in Native American religion?

Individual experience of Spirit was central to much of Native American religion, and the vision quest, common to most of the continent, was the most widespread form of such experiences. Within the priestly cultures of the Southeast and Southwest, however, religious guidance was provided by the priests, who also acted as intermediaries between people and Spirit in major festivals. Visions were generally not sought by ordinary people. Some shaman led peoples also limited vision experiences to those called to be shamans, but, in general, non-priestly societies tended to place greater significance on individual encounters with Spirit.

The vision quest was a structured search for personal vision found throughout pre-Columbian Native America and even to some extent in the Southwest and Southeast. In its most basic form, a vision quest involved an individual alone in the wilderness, spending a number of days fasting and seeking spiritual power/vision for life. In most societies, the vision quest was part of a youth's ritual passage into adulthood. In some societies both boys and girls went on vision quests, in others only boys. Often, a young woman's seclusion took place inside a special lodge, rather than in the wilderness. For some groups, the vision quest was solely a ritual of puberty, a rite in which a young person acquired his or her lifelong spirit guardian. Among other peoples, particularly in the Plains, anyone might seek supernatural guidance in a quest at any critical point in life -- or simply quest periodically as a spiritual discipline. The quest held the greatest significance for young men training to be warriors: Without a spirit guardian, no man survived many battles.

The Chickasaw of the Southeastern region required forest fasts of their young men in order for them to receive animal guardians, but the animal received was predetermined by the youth's clan. The young man's male relatives cared for him during his fast, teaching him all he needed to know about his clan spirits, but no vision was sought. Visions were the privilege of religious leaders alone. Among some Northwest Coastal peoples, the search for spirit guardians became highly ritualized. Like the Chickasaw, the guardian received was predetermined by a boy's birth clan or clan by marriage. The youth's isolation in the forest was brief and symbolic, and the spirit possession resulting from it carefully choreographed. Some Plateau and Great Basin tribes, as well as a number from the Eastern Woodlands, considered a vision to be a call to a shaman's vocation. Among the Southwestern pueblos, even though their ceremonial system focused on group experience, placing no significance on acquiring spirit guardians, individuals still sought solitary visions at times, particularly in aid of hunting, healing, and craft design.

All Native American religions involve rituals that gather the community together in common bonds of experience. Among the Iroquois peoples of the Eastern Woodlands, each year in spring and fall, community ceremonies are led by the "false faces," wooden masked impersonators of the spirit who protects the people from disease, to drive all disease away. One of the most significant annual rituals among the Southeastern peoples was the Green Corn Ceremony, in which the people purified themselves, cleaned their houses, fasted and prayed, and offered up the first ears of green corn in the fire, seeking Spirit's blessing for a healthy harvest. The high point of the festival was the relighting of the sacred fire by the religious leader and its distribution to all the community homes. The multi-day ceremonies concluded with a great feast of celebration.

The Sun dance of the Plains peoples varied from place to place, but was generally held in the summer, at a time when help and insight was especially needed from spirit beings; it took place over several days, during which time men (and in some cases women, although separately and with different ritual) danced around a central pole, often staring at the sun, sometimes attached to the pole by thongs through their flesh: They were offering Spirit the only thing that was truly theirs -- their own flesh -- in an attempt to rouse the spirits' pity and secure their help. At the two-day Zuni Shalako ceremonial held each year in late fall, the Zuni people celebrate the spirit beings' (called kachinas, like the Hopi) arrival at Zuni, bringing blessings and rain. All the scattered Zuni people who can come home to Zuni for the all night dancing and feasts.

Although many Native American groups placed great importance on individual spiritual experience, they were never spiritual consumers, nor were such experiences private. All supernatural encounters were evaluated, and accepted or rejected, by the elders of the group. The purpose of such experience was always the strengthening of the individual for good of the people, never simply personal edification.

This article is a first in a series of several.  Please click here for the next article, Native American Prayers.

 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

What is Empathy?

20 topics and questions discussed gathered from various polls and individuals with my evaluation

"Empathy... is not sympathy. Sympathy is a way of reacting to someone who is suffering. Empathy is feeling that suffering as if it were you own. In it's simplest form, it is flinching when someone slams his finger in a door. At it's most sophisticated, it is their pain in your heart."

The word "empathy" is derived from the Greek words "empatheia" meaning "passion" and "pathein" meaning "to experience, suffer". An empath experiences the feelings of others... not merely as a substitution of one's own feelings or a realization of how one would feel in a similar situation. An empath can feel another without even knowing the other's situation. While many people have empathy, the ability to understand another person's feelings implicitly, they are not necessarily empathic. Additionally, the word empathy does not take into account the physiological, instinctual, and/or primal sharing that can occur with empaths. (For example, an empath may experience that pain of another or could have a psi-somatic reaction to another's illness.) For this reason, I draw the distinction between "empathy" and "empathic". Miriam-Webster's on-line dictionary defined "empathic" as "involving, eliciting, characterized by, or based on empathy".

Having drawn a distinction between the psychological term "empathy" and empathic abilities, I'd also like to draw a distinction between empathic abilities and psychic abilities. On the one hand, psychic abilities and empathic abilities are virtually the same, as I believe that they come from the same source and use many of the same systems. On the other hand, psychic abilities again have the common interpretation of dealing with thought energies while empathic abilities are interpreted as dealing with emotional energies. There is a difference between thoughts and feelings. Additionally, I feel how our energies are channeled is the main difference between psychic and empathic abilities.

Psychics tend to channel their energies mainly through the heart chakras and above, while empaths mainly channel their energies through the heart chakra and below. People able to channel through most of all of the chakras easily are both empathic and psychic. "Chakra" is the Sanskrit word for "wheel" and they are the energy vortexes or gates in our bodies.

There are seven major chakras and many "minor" ones, but all are important. We all channel some life energy through all of the chakras, but some chakras are often more "open" than others.

Empaths tend to have their lower chakras open while psychics (channelers and clairvoyants) tend to have their upper chakras open.

Since we are on the topic of words, however, the ideal word to use to describe the abilities I am focusing on would have been "telepathy", which originally mean "far feeling." Unfortunately, the common interpretation of telepathy is thought communication and I feel that this interpretation would be a distraction for most people. I prefer the term "empath" to specifically describe telepaths who pick up emotional, physical and instinctual responses from others.

Question/Topic 1: How often do you feel waves of emotions sweep over you from a source outside of yourself?

Psychics, empaths and vampires can all feel the emotions of others to an extent.

Psychic and empathic abilities fall on the same spectrum and are not mutually exclusive. The more sensitive a psychic, empath or vampire is, the more often they tend to feel the emotions of other beings.

Psychics tend to be more attuned to the positive emotions that they describe as bliss, love, celestial guidance etc. and they tend to enjoy these feelings.

Empaths tend to most sensitive to negative emotions: anger, isolation, sadness and emotional pain. While they can also love to laugh and prefer happy moments, empaths are particularly prone to depression. They feel the pain around them and it can cause sadness within them. Sometimes these waves may be so intense, they may seem to be overwhelming... the empath may experience mood swings that have no overt physical or psychological cause.

Many empaths will describe a feeling of being overwhelmed by these emotions or even feeling smothered by them.

Those who feel positive emotions but can not enjoy them or enjoy negative emotions may be exhibiting vampiric tendencies.

Question/Topic 2: How do you feel about most animals?

Empaths usually have a strong affinity towards all animals, perhaps slightly more so than psychics, but I don't know if there is significance to this yet. Indicating that one can't stand animals, however, is typically non-empathic.

Question /Topic 3: How do animals tend to react to you?

Empaths operate on a lower level than psychics... a level approaching the level of energy that animals sense and appreciate.

Many animals are amazing generous with their energy and empaths often feel very happy and comfortable with animals and vice versa. There tends to be a cooperative link established. I often refer to this ability as the "Gift of St. Francis", as St. Francis of Assisi was an empath with amazing abilities to communicate with animals.

Psychic vampires, however, may experience a complete rejection by animals or feel that animals respond to their psychic commands.

Question /Topic 4: How often do you get the sense that certain people drain (or attempt to drain)?

Albert Einstein's famous equation "E=mc2" tells us that energy is matter and vice versa. I believe that almost everything is basically energy and power. Certain people, whether consciously or not, attempt to drain us of our energy and often they are successful. Psychics, psionic and empathic people are usually quite sensitive to these attempts and the more sensitive one is to the attempt the more often one will feel it occurring. Psychic and strongly psionic people seem to be the best at blocking these attempts, quite probably because people with vampiric tendencies were or are empathic themselves. There may be other reasons why psychics seem to be better able to handle psychic vampires, however, and I would be interested in hearing theories from psychics and even vampires as to why that may be.

Question /Topic 5: Deals with sensuality and touch.

People with vampiric tendencies tend to despise touch unless they are initiating it, yet they also feel they are extremely sensual people.. This is not to say that all people who have difficulty with issues of touch are vampires. Many people who have experienced abuse in their lives also may express some difficulty with people touching them.

Psychics and some empaths tend to enjoy touch as much as or slightly more than the average person.

People with strong empathic abilities, however, tend to be extremely sensual people. They are often very sexual and/or erotic (root chakra is quite strong) and enjoy physical touch a great deal.

Question /Topic 6: Deals with the feelings people have towards certain beings.

Feelings towards werewolves does not seem to have significance for either psychics or empaths. I tend to think that people with vampiric tendencies also do not relate with werewolves, but I'll withhold judgment until after the analysis.

Both empaths and psychics may find themselves fascinated with sprites or faeries, while vampires would probably be repulsed by them.

Empaths are either strongly fascinated by vampires, repulsed by them or both. Psychics are usually repulsed by them and vampires are usually fascinated by them. This choice is a strong flag of abilities because the vampires represent very real vampiric experiences that psychics, empaths and vampires have felt in different ways.

Fascination with angels may be an indication of psychic (clairvoyant and channeling) abilities, while revulsion may be an indication of vampiric tendencies.

Fascination or revulsion of aliens may be a mild indication of psychic abilities.

Question /Topic 7: Do Empaths tend to be very sensuous people?

If you are not ashamed or embarrassed about your body, yes . Logic is not enough to fill the gaps in their understanding of the universe, empaths need to sense and feel. Since strong empaths tend to feel closed in and smothered by the feelings around them, they often prefer peaceful rural settings where they can tune themselves in to nature. Empaths who are very strong often wish they could go back to the simple life of Adam and Eve, running naked in nature feeling the energy flow unencumbered by the insulative qualities of clothing.

Remember that empaths seem to operate mainly through the lower chakras, which are usually covered by clothing which blocks some of the energy flow through these chakras. Since the throat, forehead and crown chakras tend not to be covered most of the time by clothing that restricts energy flows, psychics may not feel this yearning. Some empaths, especially in our society, were brought up in a shameful environment and shame may be a tremendous block for them, and they tend feel very restricted by these feelings. (Shame is one of the more powerful blocks to empathy)

Question /Topic 8:  Deals with common fears.

Empaths tend to be very much in touch with animals, and will probably not fear them.

Empaths and psychics will probably not fear witches or pagan rituals.

Many empaths and psychics believe that they live prior lives including lives in which they were accused of witchcraft or heresy because of their beliefs and abilities, so they tend to have an affinity to witches, if anything. (note: many are witches and followers of other Pagan based paths.)

Fear of vampires may be an indication of psychic and/or empathic abilities for reasons previously stated.

The fear of drowning or being smothered is a very strong indication of empathic abilities and possibly psychic abilities.

Some empaths may feel that they are being smothered by the negative emotions of others.

This feeling may represent itself in our psyche as a fear of drowning, being smothered or even claustrophobia. Additionally, there may be another reason: those empaths and psychic who feel that they lived previous lives as witches may fear drowning and being smothered because the preferred method of execution for those convicted was drowning, suffocation by hanging or suffocation by being crushed with stones. (While some witches were indeed "burned at the stake", most it seems dies by suffocation or drowning.

The fear of heights has no significance for psychics, empaths or vampires.

Question/Topic 9: Pick two colors which energize you the most.

People with vampiric abilities tend to pick "black" and "red"

People with empathic abilities tend to pick "black", "red", "orange", "yellow", "green"

People with psychic abilities tend to pick "green", "blue", "indigo", "violet" and "white"

There may be two reasons for these findings:

1. People commonly associate emotions or ideals with colors. For example, red is often associated with anger or passion. Orange is often associate with warmth and yellow with sunniness and happiness. Green is often associated with health. Blue is associated with calmness (or alternatively with sadness.) Violet is often a symbol of wisdom, regality and psychic awareness. Black is a somber color for some while white is a symbol of celestial purity for others. Given that empaths are very passionate people who enjoy warm feelings but often experience somber feelings, it may be that they are drawn to the colors that remind them of this. Psychics, I believe, tend to desire a sense of calm understanding, wisdom and celestial purity and could be drawn to the colors which represent these ideals.

2. Some of the colors represented are associated with the major chakras of the body. Red is the root chakra located at the base of the spine. Orange is associated with the pelvic chakras just below the waist. Yellow is associated with the solar plexus chakra. Green is said to be the color of the heart chakra. Blue is associated with the throat chakra. Indigo is traditionally said to be the color of the "third eye", located in the middle of the forehead (some say this color is actually violet.) Violet is traditionally said to be the color of the crown chakra on top of the head, however some say this chakra is white, some say it is gold, and some say it contains many colors. (Not being a clairvoyant or a channeler, I personally have difficulty seeing the colors in the chakras.) People may therefore be choosing the colors that correspond to the chakras they feel are most attuned.

Question /Topic 10: Pick one color which you need more of in your life.

For possibly the same reasons stated above, most empaths seem to choose "green", "blue", "indigo", "violet", while most psychics seem to choose "green", "yellow", "orange" or "red". Vampires it seems usually choose "green" which I find interesting because green is associated with the heart chakra, and my belief is that psychic vampires experience difficulties with the heart chakra (the chakra most closely tied to our feelings of caring and wellbeing for others.) Choosing "green" though is not an indication of vampiric abilities since it is often a common choice for both psychics and empaths as well. "Blue" seems to be the most common choice for empaths, either because they seek the calm, peace and cooling effects it has or because it is associated with the throat chakra (which seems to be the weak chakra for many empaths - myself included.)

Question/Topic 11: Pick one color which negatively affects you the most.

This is actually a question of vampiric tendencies. Most people who consciously choose to be vampiric seem to be bothered by the colors "yellow", "green" and to a lesser degree "white". Alone this question is useless, but said in conjunction with other questions, this question can be a decent indication of these tendencies.

Question /Topic 12: Who prefers rural or urban areas.

This question is mostly significant to empaths. Empaths usually prefer the peacefulness of rural places away from the negative emotions that flood them in urban settings. It would seem, though, that if strong empaths prefer rural settings, then preferring an urban setting would be a sign of not being empathic. This is not the case, however, as empaths who are less sensitive may enjoy the flow of energy from crowds and may seek out urban settings to recharge. (These empaths, however, should be wary of recharging by taking energy from others without their explicit permission.)

This habit could lead into psychic vampirism.

Energy exchanges in urban areas can be extreme however, they can also sometimes become a violent maelstrom.

One of the reasons violence tends to occur in urban settings is because of the energy flows that occur there.

Consider the way many people in urban areas live: small apartments with other apartments close on either side as well as above and below. Add to the equation the tremendous amounts of electromagnetic energy from numerous power sources, and unnatural lighting sources such as sodium vapor and florescent bulbs then subtract the natural energies blocked by tall buildings and the natural energies lost due to fewer plants and animals.

Most strong empaths and psychics experience difficulties with extended visits to the city, however, there are a select few who are able to channel those energy flows to their benefit. (These empaths and psychics are usually extremely adept at blocking, shielding and cleansing negativity.)

Question /Topic 13: Which of the following do you feel more drawn towards?

Empaths seem to consider the earth as their domain, while psychics look to the sky. (Many psychics have told me that they love to fly!)

Question/Topic 14: In times of trouble do you rely on feelings from your head, heart, gut?

Empaths tend to say the "gut" (I would say, intuition, inner guidance), psychics tend to say the "head" or "heart".

Question/Topic 15: To get out of a dark mood, who do you usually seek?

Both empaths and psychics tend to say they sought solitude or the company of friends. The most telling answer, though, was the company of people you don't know very well... an answer someone with vampiric tendencies might lean towards. The desire to borrow energy anonymously during times of difficulty is a vampiric trait.

Question /Topic 16: How often do you get "feelings" about other people ?

Both empaths and psychics describe themselves and are described as being very sensitive. Being described as insensitive or overly sensitive, however, may be a sign of vampiric tendencies since others may feeling that the energy exchanges in one's relationships are not on an equal level.

In other words, if others see you as insensitive or overly sensitive, they may feel that you are pulling energy from them or draining them. If you choose to be insensitive as a way of blocking people from draining you (not being vulnerable), there are other effective ways of blocking while maintaining your sensitivity.

Question /Topic 17:

Under revision and will be forthcoming in the near future.

Question /Topic 18:

Under revision and will be forthcoming in the near future.

Question/Topic 19: Describes the energy exchanges between yourself and others.

Psychic and empaths usually seek to keep energy exchanges on an equal level or may choose to give energy to others.

People with vampiric tendencies often pull energy from others.

People who are not sensitive in terms of psychic/empathic abilities tend not to be aware of energy exchanges.

Question/Topic 20: Rate your healing abilities and tendencies.

While vampires may have the ability to heal, their tendency may be to harm.

Empaths and psychics tend to have strong healing abilities. The degree of healing ability may be an excellent indicator of the strength of one's empathic and psychic abilities.

The feelings one has in the chakras helps determine whether one is leaning towards empathic or psychic abilities, and whether one has blocks.