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Archive for August, 2013

NYPL-stacks

I want “everything”! To do, to know, to learn, to be adept at everything! Some might call this a type “A” personality, but it goes much further than this. It is not a need to keep busy, but rather a hunger to take it all in. This has always been my nature and that hunger served me well in my youth, but has become cumbersome and limiting as I embrace my latter fifties. The reality is that there is just not enough time in a day, a year or a lifetime to make that an achievable or even productive goal. And, the old adage of being a “Jack of all trades and master of none” looms heavy and large as to what can potentially be the outcome.

Over the years deep conversations, a few physical challenges and the resultant inner dialogue of why I am so driven have helped to reign in this compulsive need to extend myself much further than I should. Having great determination of will to keep pushing regardless have at times made it difficult to focus on how and where my energies are should be distributed.

This behavior colors all aspects of my life, but most notably the dynamics of my spiritual path have raised questions around the efficacy of this need to achieve to a place front and center. I wrote the past two weeks about quality versus quantity and this seems an appropriate follow up to those.

We get so caught up in the process of continual movement that we no longer see that we are not truly moving forward, but simply spinning our wheels, caught in the illusion of the moment. The desire to be a proverbial fount of knowledge and experience is always held in the background of spiritual pursuit. The dynamics and intensity of what that includes vary from individual to individual, but the raw desire remains the same. This is after all the catalyst that inspires us to continue on the path of self evolvement and what keeps us on the path in the first place. That fountain may flow with slow and steady drip, arch up filled with push or swell and overflow in what you feed into it; but it is decidedly the source from which we drink.

To keep these impulses in check I use the months of the harvest as a check in point with myself to assess what I have accomplished. I try to pay closer attention to how much I am extending myself, how much I am trying to learn and experience and when I am reaching that non-productive place of over expansion. I set the intent that most of what I have gained up to this point, I will allow to flow outward in teaching, writing and sharing as an act of harvesting the fruits of my efforts. I set the intent that I will keep the seeds of those experiences and new lessons so they may be replanted when there is adequate space for their growth. I set the intent to enter this time in reflection, celebration and joy in what I have achieved and the inroads I have made.

So, ready, set, and act with intent! Slow the pace and really savor the bounty of the journey along the way. What fruits of harvest and intent does your check in show?

Excerpted in Part:
A Weekly Reflection. Musings for the Year (Week 23). R.Fennelly 2012
More information about book at: http://www.robinfennelly.com

Image Credit: A sectional view of the New York Public Library. 1911. Original Source: From Scientific American. (New York : Munn Co., 1845-). From NYPL’s Digital Gallery

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Fractals2

Last week’s post focused on the axiom of “Quality vs. Quantity” and the emphasis on quality in spiritual studies, workings and practice.  This week I would like to take a look at the quantity side of the coin and the imminent interaction the two have upon one another.

Quantity- Def. of:
a : an indefinite amount or number
b : a determinate or estimated amount
c : total amount or number

If we look at the definitions above there is implied a principle of abundance and having many of something. If we think about quantity as it relates to our spiritual practice this often translates as having lots of books and resource material, many teachers and hosts of workshops, festivals and rituals attended. The goal being to fill ourselves with as much knowledge and experience as possible in hopes of propelling ourselves forward on our chosen path in the little time allotted as physical beings.

Now, I am not saying that these things are not much needed tools, but being indiscriminate in how we use our time, financial resources and energy could be likened to falling prey to the “more is better” syndrome. Workshop junkies who go from one blissful workshop to another without giving time for the information to integrate or verifying the validity of content taken in learn little that is substantive in quality and often burn out prematurely from overload at the point when longevity is most needed. Reading is a wonderful staple of practice and learning, but the quantity of material we can actually process and then put to use is meager compared to the quantity of what is retained if the discernment of quality of content is missing. And, attending ritual after ritual that is devoid of clear intent and understanding of what has been ritualized on your part and quality and power of execution on the part of priest and priestess will leave you thirsting for more satisfying and clearer streams at best, and disconnected, ungrounded and uprooted at worst.

As I noted last week in using the example of refining my skill as a dancer by seeking out actions that were repetitive and determinate in the quantity of hours spent in class and rehearsal, I eventually reached my goal of refinement and quality of movement. This quality came incrementally and was the child that was birthed from the union of maximum effort and selective exercise.  The important factor is that the number of hours spent and practice were all filled with the quality of intent in creating something beautiful and perfect in execution and form that could be added to the quantity of these individual steps that were being accumulated. This effort in and of itself was using a mindset of quality in choosing to select quantity in the  amount of effort put forth.  Each of these individual steps that had been tempered in the quantity of practice  and brought to a place of quality could then be used to create a quality piece of choreography that held both states as its place of inception.

What I have come to learn from this constant flip flop from a place of drawing in everything and then whittling down to the space of refinement and clarity is that any work of self-improvement and self-knowledge takes a great deal of work. It is a work in progress that spans years of concentrated effort and practice and more practice of the skill sets you wish to develop and to maintain. There will be many teachers, both formal and informal, you will engage with and the quality derived from the teachings will be proportionate with the quantity of those interactions. We are, afterall, part of the greater whole which is inclusive of billions of life forms, so to cloister ourselves away, interacting with only a “select” few is counter-intuitive to experiencing the lesson of an incarnate life.  And, it is in the weeding and wading through all of that great mass that we call living  to our highest potential that we can find the balance point of what we personally resonate with as quality that is extracted from what deeply informs and what is discarded.

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1368184872_509055390_1-Pictures-of--Fancy-Chickens-fertile-eggs-buyer

I will begin by saying up front that this and next week’s posts are going to be filled with contradiction.  The rebellious and inquisitive nature in me often likes to pull apart what is the accepted belief, test it and then decide what my own opinion will be.  The issue of quality vs. quantity has always been one in which I easily see both the pitfalls and the benefits.  I attribute some of this to my years of classical training as a dancer and the need for both quality ( beauty and grace of movement)  and quantity (practice, practice, practice) to maintain my level of expertise.  I often flipped the energy to quantity vs. quality simply because I needed to push the physical boundaries and limitations to build a certain level of endurance and then draw it finely back into quality of the movement I was making.  This approach has never left my sphere of use and its application has proved beneficial in mundane and spiritual matters.

We are continually reminded that selection of quality is the preferred method of progress rather than the quantity of whatever tools of use that endeavor may include. When it is applied to our magickal and spiritual pursuits this philosophy can serve to make us more discriminating or render us more dogmatic and exclusive in what our beliefs are and how they are expressed.  I would like to think that I am choosing quality over quantity in the selection of my books, teachers and overall community and that preference has served to better inform and move me along at a quicker pace of self growth, but the reality is that I have often overlooked things that may have served me better. Take a look at the definition of the word “quality ” below:

Quality- Def. of:
a : degree of excellence : grade
b : superiority in kind

Who is to be the determiner of what is quality? And, how do we measure the quality of their declaration? Is it not a purely subjective matter? Even, if we have a consensus of opinion could it be that everyone just happens to be resonating in the same way? Or is something more going on?

When we make a judgement call of what is excellence, we have to have something to measure it against.  Here we have polarity at its finest. Quite frankly, if we haven’t experienced a fair share of crap, how do we know what excellence is? That takes me back to the point made a few paragraphs above about overlooking things that would have served me better.  Sometimes wading through the muck is the only ay to get to the pastures of fertile green life.  Holding out for the perfect route could become an exercise in waiting eternally for what is an unrealistic expectation at the time.  Now this is not to say that I am suggesting you allow yourself to get stuck in mediocrity; the key here being that you continue to forge ahead until you hit ground that feels and resonates productively with your expectations.

Since a spiritual practice is highly personal, what moves me to a state of excellence and what moves another could be and often are very distant in their similarities. We are after all talking about teachings that are vibrational in nature, accessing teachers who have presumably done the work to refine their own energies and are able to impart the subtleties of practice in a subtle and profound manner and exercises of practice that have been proven to be effective.  And, given the over abundance of information, resources, teachings and more weeding through and finding the space of quality can seem like the proverbial needle in the haystack.

One of the ways in which I try to sort it out is to strive for the goal of achieving a point of balance.  This requires bringing the lessons of what was less than quality in experience and the pure energy of that perceived place of excellence to a mid point.  It requires looking at all aspects of each tool I add to my magickal and spiritual practice.  It requires weighing the measure of what I feel I can extract from the experience with what I intuit the productive outcome to be.  And, then combining the best aspects of each, neither in over abundance or lack and each re-informing and engaging the other.  The result is often something that is the best of both and the opportunity to foster a new generation of excellence for others to act upon.

Next week’s post will focus on Quantity and the interaction of the two together.

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As promised this week I have a sample of a Pathworking and a  guided meditation for you to see the difference between the two.  You may wish to read Last Week’s post to refresh in your mind the core components of each.  Let’s begin with a Pathworking:

Pathworking:

The following is an example of a Pathworking to empower yourself as being abundant in what you draw to you.   As you will see it is a bit more complex in nature with more subtle wording that will act directly on the subconscious as a way to unlock the memories of spiritual experience as scene plays out.  Additionally, you could use this in conjunction with a specific moon phase or season cycle to enhance the connections which are then reinforced by the energies on physical space that are resonant.

The Horn of Plenty

cornucopia1

Take a few deep breaths; filling your lungs on each inhalation and gently breathing out on each exhale. Allow your body to sit comfortably on the surface on which you are sitting. You feel no tension or strain in any part of your body. Allow your breathing pattern to establish its own rhythm of gentle rise and fall of your chest and a deeper feeling of relaxation with each exhale. Turn your focus now to the space behind your closed lids and create an inner screen upon which various images may be projected. This is your gateway into a meditative state of peace, calm and tranquility. As you continue to breathe deeply a fine mist of violet energy fills the screen and you are drawn to it. You see your self approach the center of this screen and gently step through, emerging at the edge of a wooded forest at dusk. The sky is ablaze and bathed in reds and oranges casting a serene glow on all it touches. The smell of autumn is in the air and the leaves of the trees are a palette of reds, browns and golds. This is the time of the harvest; the time when that which was seeded in the Spring and nurtured throughout the Summer is ready to be gathered. You walk forward on a path between the trees and each step produces the sound of crackling leaves echoing from tree to tree. A gentle breeze carries the scent of apples, pumpkin pie, corn pudding and bread baking. Take a moment to enjoy the aromas and sounds surrounding you.

As you continue walking you are drawn to a light ahead and see the thatched roof of a cottage just ahead. A curl of dark, thick smoke spirals upwards from the chimney and the glow of amber colored light can be seen through the windows. You are instinctively drawn to this place and a sense of familiarity fills your being as you step up onto the porch. Pumpkins, gourds and tied bales of hale adorn the entryway. The scent of fragrant wood burning in a hearth within and the front door slightly ajar beckon you to come inside. You gently push the door open and amber hues, table-top baskets of apples and a crackling fireplace fill the panorama of view. Take a moment to look around and to drink in the sights, smells and sounds. You make yourself at home in this cozy cottage and know that these feelings are memories of what you have desired and willed to be so.

As you continue with your exploration your eyes come to rest on a wicker basket shaped as a Horn of Plenty. It sits on a small side table and contains within small scrolls of parchment; each rolled and bound by an earthy green ribbon. You are curious about the contents contained within the Horn and what meaning they may hold for you and in keeping with the warmth and welcome you have felt from the time of stepping into this space of plenty, you reach out and take one of the scrolls from the Horn. You gently unroll it and see words and images appearing on its surface. Some you recognize, others seem like a distant dream and others still do not seem to have any relevance at all. Despite this, you know these contain the energy of what has already been gifted to you. This is your promise of a Full and Abundant harvest of all that is the best and most aligned parts of yourself. This represents that which is both a gift to yourself and in turn will become the gift you share with all you meet. This is the path of service and the agreement you have entered into for receipt of an abundant and flowing life.

Holding your scroll you move to sit in a rocking chair that is placed just in front of the fireplace. As you gaze into the flickering and dancing flames you see the images of all the positive actions you have taken this year; all the successes of those seeds of new beginnings planted and the ripe, lush fruit that has come to full harvest. You breathe deeply as you scry into these dancing flames and take some time to reflect on these many beautiful, positive qualities that are expressions of your highest SELF.

You have received all that is needed at this time and you stand, the rocker gently moving in response to your action. You look around the room, taking in all of the beauty surrounding you. You move towards the door through which you entered and take a final look around the room; acknowledging that this is your private and sacred space of working. This space is one to which you may and will return at anytime there is need to be reminded of the prosperity and abundance that flows through both your mundane and spiritual life.

As these thoughts fill your mind and seem to echo throughout all of your being, your gaze is caught once again by the Horn of Plenty. You move closer and to your surprise in place of the small scrolls of parchment you see that is has become a cornucopia filled with fruit, squash, corn, apples and nuts. The small table is filled to overflowing with all the bounty of the Harvest and somehow you know that this abundance reflects the many images you found within your own basket of plenty. You breathe in deeply committing this image to memory and vowing to align your actions with this ever-present state of abundance. You walk towards the door, gently push it open and step out into the forest, now lit by the brilliance of a honey gold sunset. The velvet of the night sky is minutes away and the hush and calm bodes the promise of a restful evening just ahead.

As you stand on the porch taking in the beauty of this sight, just in front of you the veil of violet lit mist forms in front of you. You step through and once again return to the space of your inner screen. You feel the calm re-entry into this space and the screen gently fades as your focus returns to your breath and its strong and supportive rhythm. Allow yourself to slowly and gently return to the physicality of sitting in the space of your beginning; the feel of your body in chair or on floor and the gentle rise and fall of your breath. And, when you are ready gently flutter your eyes open and return to the sounds, smells and energy of your physical surroundings.

Guided Meditation:

The following is an example of a guided meditation I wrote to be used for stress reduction. Everything is designed to bring the subconscious into a state of relaxation that may then be called upon when the stresses of the day take over. It is direct and straight forward in setting and actions that could easily be translated into a real-life scenario.

The Butterfly’s Wing

Flying-Blue-Butterfly

Find a comfortable space where you will not be disturbed and settle into a supportive chair or with your back braced as you sit on the floor. Breathe deeply and fully a few times and with each subsequent breath allow yourself to settle more deeply into whatever you are sitting in or on. Close your eyes and gentle pull your conscious mind up to the space between your brows and envision an inner screen of your making. You are both observer and participant in the experience and you as you breathe more deeply and establish a steady flow of rhythm you see a point of blue light just ahead of you. As you continue to inhale and exhale this point begins to expand and forms a dense yet very refined mist of pale blue flickering light. You breathe into the stretching of this light as though to form a veiling or threshold and see yourself stepping through the mist.

You emerge at the edge of a beautifully landscaped garden. Green bushes, flowering trees and a tapestry of assorted flowers spread in front of you like a welcoming carpet. You see that there is a stone path just to your right and curious as to what lay along its course you turn and begin to step forward. Your feet make a gentle tapping sound as each moves from circular stone to circular stone and each footfall seems to release the fragrant scent of thyme that grows between and around each stone. You walk along taking note of the sunlight pouring down warm and strong and the blending of sounds of birds, insects and the gentle rustle of wind through trees.

As you move ahead taking in the beauty of the surroundings you are drawn to a space just off the path, barely visible yet seeming to call you to come sit in its cover. You take note of a beautifully carved wooden chair nestle in the corner space of flowers, small bushes and a large tree. Knowing instinctively that this is your intended destination, you sit on a curved wooden garden chair and look out at the beautifully colored flowers surrounding you. The chair supports you comfortably and feels like a warm embrace from sun heated fragrant pine. You breathe in deeply and the blended fragrance of garden flowers and green moist leaves fills your nostrils. The sun is warm overhead and you feel its gentle heat moving through you.

As you sit taking in the sights and sounds you continue to deepen your breaths. Each exhale seeming to release all of the tensions or stress that you may have carried into this garden. You feel yourself becoming lighter and lighter with your breath coming easily and deeply. You relax into the support of the garden chair and close your eyes. You are calm and completely at peace in this space.

You open your eyes and see just in front of you a beautiful blue butterfly. It hovers over the tips of several of the flowers, stopping here and there and fanning wings open and closed. You follow the pattern of this beautiful creature as it moves from flower to flower and comes to rest directly beside you on a tall coneflower. You remain perfectly still, not wanting to disturb it and it goes about its work of busily gathering what it needs. You remember that you have seen these same butterflies in the carefully tended landscape around your work space, but have never taken the time to pause and take in the peace and beauty of their flight. You vow that you will carry this image back into your waking/working world and it will remind you of the serenity you have felt in this space.

As these thoughts move smoothly through your mind, you realize that some time has passed and still the butterfly remains on this singular flower near you. You draw this image deeply into your memory and breathe deeply feeling with each flutter of the butterfly’s wing even more tension being released. You close your eyes, resting into this gentle rhythm of breath that is in sync with this creature of beauty and serenity. You take a few more deep breaths in this manner and open your eyes to gaze once again on the fluttering of blue velvet wings.

You are surprised to see that the butterfly is no longer there or anywhere in sight and your realize that this gentle pace that you began with the butterfly was being supported and sustained by your own will and desire for calm and serenity. You close your eyes once again feeling totally relaxed, safe and comfortable in this space. Remain in this state of pure peace for as long as is needed.

You take a deep breath and open your eyes and find that it is slightly darker than when you entered this space. The evening is coming and soon it will be dark and time for restful sleep and renewal. You stand and stretch broadly feeling as though you could gather all of the space within your arms and carry it back with. You breathe deeply and draw in the smells and feelings of ease and renewal. You step forward onto the path you entered upon and give one final look back at the nestled space of peace that you found. You take a few steps forward and see just ahead of you a fine light blue mist forming and weaving its energy. As you approach closer you see that is actually hundreds of the blue butterflies weaving and fluttering wing creating a veil. You breathe deeply and step directly into the center as they part and surround you, gentle wings softly beating and reminding you of the peace and calm they offered. You breathe deeper still and utter a soft and gentle thanks and at the release of thee words the space clears and you find yourself once again in the space of your inner landscape.

You continue to breathe gently and fully and with each breath you become more aware of your physical being sitting in the space you chose for this meditation. You become more aware of the sounds and the smells surrounding you. You become more aware of the rise and fall of your chest moving in the gentle flow of inhale and exhale. And, when you are ready, gently flutter your eyes open and be present in physical time and space, relaxed, renewed and serene.

As you can see from the examples above, each has its own type of rhythm and quality dependent on what the desired outcome may be.  Whichever you chose, regular use of the written word as a medium for change can offer lasting benefits and in the time you will come to know yourself at a much more profound level. 

END NOTE:   I use Pathworkings frequently in my books as an enhancement to the teaching of the title.  If you have an interest in Astrology or Qabalah please check out the links below:

The Inner Chamber Series, Vol. One
It’s Written in the Stars- Astrology

The Inner Chamber Series , Vol. Two
Poetry of the Spheres- Qabalah

The Enchanted Gate:
Musings on the Natural World

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imgres

“ The spoken word changes reality.
The written word is manifestation of that reality.
And, the two combined cause physiological response
and affirmation of manifestation.”

Many people confuse pathworkings with guided meditations as they become more involved in developing their spiritual practice.  The two may seem like the same thing simply with different nomenclature,  but when you have a better understanding of what the effects and goals of each are, the differences become more discernible and more apparent.

I write a lot of pathworkings and usually incorporate them in my workshops and articles as I can.    For years I used guided meditations to relax and reaffirm myself or simply as a way to deepen my ability to remain open and receptive to new information.

Take a look at the picture above.  A pathwworking is similar to this image or analogy.  You walk in  the woods and encounter many different types of plants and animals.  Everything you see evokes a memory, whether you are consciously aware of it or not.  There are many side paths you may take as well, each leading to another part of the same woods, but having arrival by a different, route different, group of encounters, etc.  And, eventually you arrive at your destination, but with many much more knowledge of what would have gone largely unnoticed had you used a variety of keys.

If you were experiencing a guided meditation, the route would be planned. One path would be decided upon and you would not stray from that path as you moved towards the final destination.  Each from will get you to the destination of your choosing, but the way in which you get there is determined by what is straight forward and what relies on analogy and inference.

The choice of using one of these over the other is usually determined by that goal.  Changes to overt behaviors such as tools for relaxation, energizing, sleep problems, smoking, boosting self confidence, etc.. are generally more effected by a guided meditation.  Ongoing spiritual work, energetic anatomy or connection to varied states of consciousness generally respond to a pathworking.  Now these are not hard and fast rules, but general guidelines about  which would produce better results.

Another consideration in choice is that the events or scenarios presented in a guided meditation will directly align with whatever the issue is.  So, if you are stressed and want to relieve that stress the guided meditation will take the opposite form of what you are working on.  If the goal is one of boosting your self-confidence, the guided meditation will offer a safe setting where you feel confident and strong.  You may be instructed to visualize yourself acting in a manner that displays this confidence.   The key word here being “guided”.  In this form of meditation you are guided or directed towards your goal using scenes, words and imagery that you can easily recognize and then imprint into your own psyche.

The word “pathworking” is derived from the Qabalistic Tree of Life and the paths of connection between the spheres.  Each path acts as synthesizer of the pure essence of energy of the spheres they connect; and stands as both extremes as well as the central point of balance.  Originally the concept of a pathworking related to the inner work the initiate would encounter as they internalized the energy of the spheres and the paths to refine and transform their magickal endeavors.  Because of the potency and dynamics of the combined energies, specific keys and imagery  were used in the creation of the pathworking that were meant to access the deeper realms of consciousness and open it to a state of union with the individual’s Higher consciousness.   It is from this initial intent that pathworkings are formulated and constructed and are now used within a variety of  magickal or spiritual practices.   The underlying current is still fueled by the inroads of the original intent and the Qabalistic connections despite what surface modalities are used.

To be specific, a pathworking will incorporate a variety of tools as keys.  These may include  Astrology, Tarot images, Qabalah, Numbers/Colors or sensations. Often the settings have no overt alignment to what is being worked upon and the imagery used is one that acts to stimulate memory and subconscious association that can be processed through all of the spiritual bodies.

Next week:  I will offer a  Pathworking and a Guided Meditation as sample.

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lammas

Another turn of the Great Wheel and the first harvest is upon us. This Sabbat is known as Lammas or Lughnassadh depending on where and how it is celebrated. Lammas is derived from the words “loaf mass” and refers to the harvesting of the grains.   Read More and check out the accompanying poem in WitchVox Poetry section here….

Lammas: The Sacrificial Harvest

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