I spent the early part of the morning, after I’d loaded the kids off to school, stressed. I could feel the tension rising in my chest as I searched my home office for the packet of photographs my birthfather had sent me months ago, then, when I found them, how to scan the ones I wanted from my printer onto the computer.
While I was looking for the photographs, I shifted through piles of debris, hardly giving these stored mementos a second glance in my panic to find the photos. Instead, there were the barely perceptible pauses as I catalogued the contents for later review. As my mind wandered to many places, I kept hearing the voice inside telling me to get outside. Downstairs the banana bread I had made for my son’s class was sitting on the counter cooling, and the voice urged, Why don’t you walk it to school?
As I showered, having given up on my efforts to scan the recovered photographs, the voice kept coming back. I thought about the time it would take (the school is only about a mile from my house), and whether the dogs would protest. But, as I sliced and wrapped the bread, popping a heal in my mouth to make sure it would pass the taste bud test of 7 and 8 year olds, I thought, What the heck, I’m going to walk.
The dogs barely noticed, as I wafted by them with my bag of bread and quickly opened and closed the front door. They knew, as I did, they’d still get their daily allotment of 3 walks/day. It’s a rare day when they don’t.
There’s something about stepping from the enclosure of a building into the open air that has an immediate effect of lifting one’s mood. Well, at least for me. Especially on a fine, spring day. Instantly, I felt lighter and the tension began pouring out of my cells. I had, I realized, through the urging of Spirit, given myself a gift.
Even though I stayed on the roadside, I was surrounded by bird-song and that showy abundance of chlorophyl one finds only in spring and summer. There’s a reason why so many people go into the cathedral of nature to find themselves, and to heal. Green is the color that vibrates from the healthy heart, it’s the aura of a healer, and it’s the expression of life in nature. Unless one is metaphorically asleep, you cannot help but feel the uplifting effects of being in the presence of plants and trees.
As I walked to the school, I inhaled the color green with each breath, and took in the gifts Nature had to offer me. On the way home, I asked Spirit for a plastic bag (an easy request, as they’re often tangled in the undergrowth of trees), and found one minutes later caught in the hands of a small shrub. The roadside was full of discarded debris, and I began piling soda and beer cans, disposable coffee cups, cigarette packages and butts, and all manner of plastic inside my too small bag.
If I hadn’t taken the extra time to walk to my son’s school on this beautiful day, I would not have seen the black bird fly across my path. I would not have taken that deep breath to absorb the gift of its energy, and in turn, hear its message of reassurance, You will find your way. If I had driven my car, I would not have paused, while retrieving bits of styrofoam, to seen the pair of orioles spreading sunshine through the pines. And, I would not have paused beside the fire pond to watch the light dance on water.
Spider weaves and waits
a silent spinner of tales
eight hands shaping fate
Yesterday, while eating lunch with two of my healer friends, I glanced up to see a large spider tattooed on the forearm of a waiter. I had been talking about my book. Another message from spirit had greeted my thoughts.
The spider is consider the writer’s totem. If you write, it is likely that the stories you create are aided by the eight hands of spider. When I picture my spider totem, I see the black widow. I have learned from this totem, and others, that words have the power to sting, and also to heal. They can carry us into the darkness within, and pull our truths out into the light. They can teach us about our fears, and about healing through writing (the black widow wears a red hourglass on her back).
Spider, with its eight legs, and a body in the shape of a figure eight, links us to infinity, and as Ted Andrews notes in Animal Speak, the wheel of life. One might wish to study the Wheel of Fortune card in tarot for more insight. The spider, from the earliest of times, has taught us to see the mystery of life, and of the universe, and, in doing so, she teaches about balance. She shows us that how we shape our stories, determines the texture of our destiny. She models us how to find self within the span of life’s web.
Andrews reminds us that because of their delicate bodies, spiders embody the balance of gentleness and strength. The writer must remember the effect the energy of her words will have when they are spun into a story, yet she must endow them with strength.
In one of my former lives, I was a female scribe in Egypt. I carry this life and its gifts with me today. Spider is considered the creator of language, as well as a guardian of ancient alphabets. She guides the writer to bring beauty and light into the weavings of the imagination, which emerge from the place of dreams. The writer, like the spider, creates from the place of silence, working from the inside out, to bring her work to life/light.
If you have a spider as a totem animal, it is beneficial to study the type. Not all spiders weave the same type of web (some don’t even weave webs), nor do they all eat the same prey, or wear the same colors on their skin. Most spiders have poison in their bites, but some leave a more lasting sting.
Frequently, during healing sessions with my clients, animal energies will appear as messengers or totems. Recently, a crow made its presence known by appearing on a woman’s left shoulder. I felt a chuckle escape from my mouth, clearly this one was a bit of a trickster.
Often, our bird totems will perch themselves on our shoulders, and travel with us throughout our days. They offer us guidance and wisdom, even when we don’t know they are there, much like our spirit guides do. In fact, I view them as spirit guides specialized in the energetic characteristics of the particular animal they represent. As I told my client, sometimes they come and go as needed, sometimes they are with us for the span of our life-time. I think crow, in her case, was what you might call a primary totem animal. Her shoulder was even fatigued from its weight.
Although she could not “feel” the fatigue and muscle strain they way I could, it was significant that it was there. Crow as a totem animal guide can be a bit complex and mischievous, much like its counter-part appears in nature. They are clever survivors, and will go through any means of trickery needed to get to their desired goal.
Watch for crows in nature, and you will often find them perched on the top of trees as sentinels, looking for opportunities. Their black, feathered bodies evoke the energy of mystery and magic. Their piercing eyes mirror wisdom. They are adaptable birds, and find the means to survive in any situation they encounter. When needed, they work together to find food sources, even if it means stealing from another animal. Their diet is not limited, they’ll eat pretty much anything at hand. They’ll even turn on each other, if the circumstance threatens their individual survival.
At other times, crows act together, using sentinels and messengers to relay information regarding food sources and danger. Listen to the crow’s voice and you cannot help but feel its power. It is not usually a pleasant sound, like a song bird, but it holds an undeniable strength. When a crow passes overhead, even if it is silent, one may feel the impulse to shiver. Yes, there is mystery in the crow, which often pulls us to the place of magic and secrets.
Black is considered the color of creation, and the feminine energies of the universe. As Ted Andrews points out in Animal Speak, black represents the womb where new birth occurs. The crow, as a totem animal, can help us with this aspect of ourselves, showing us how to go within to find our inner magic and to pull out hidden gifts.
In the case of my client, the crow on her shoulder had been with her for some time, helping her to survive, but not always ethically. It was time to shift the crow’s energy, and I urged her to shake the crow off its perch from time to time, and let if fly around, switch shoulders, etc. Since she has already done much healing, I have no doubt my client will start working with crow in a new way, using its energetic gifts to delve into the truths of her soul, and use her intellect in ways that will bring light to not only herself, but to others.
Crow can draw us into the mysteries of the womb and stir it to life, but we must take care to ensure that we bring those gifts into the light in a means that will bring more than personal gain.
This morning, as I began my walk in the woods, I was greeted by 6 geese flying over me in a V formation. I had been thinking about Mother’s Day approaching, and what it meant in terms of my relationship with my mother. There had been, as I recall, a momentary feeling of wistfulness for a past celebration of the day, spent with my mother and sister in a quaint country restaurant nestled amid gardens of flowers and herbs (and most likely an abundance of fairies).
There had also been the remembrance of a dream from the night before, where I had found myself at the dinner table with my childhood family. It was not a pleasant dream, and more than the content itself, I retained the feeling of angst and the struggle for voice and self-assertion.
The geese, I later realized as I opened Ted Andrews’ book Animal Speak, where another gift, another messenger from spirit. The number 6, he tells us, is symbolic of family and the home. As Rachel Pollack points out in her book Tarot Wisdom, the Rider tarot deck consistently depicts the number 6 as a card of “unequal relationships.” There is a hierarchy, predominately in the form of male energy, that occurs within the suits, much like the environment in my childhood home.
Back to the goose, as an animal messenger. The goose, as Andrews points out, connects us to the childhood imagination, and the magic of fairy tales (hence the story-teller, “Mother Goose”). When we go back to the stories we loved as children, Andrews tells us, we rediscover our path in this life.
When I was a child, I read to escape into other worlds. My favorite books were tales of magic and the untempered imagination. Books by authors such as C.S. Lewis, Madeleine L’Engle and L. M. Montgomery. Through these wonderful stories, I danced with fairies and traveled through time and space to connect with the invisible magic of the universe. I was more at home inside these pages, than I was inside my house.
I also loved stories, such as the Anne of Green Gables and Little House on the Prairie series that had as there protagonist a girl who not only ran wild and free, but also wrote. Yes, you could say, these books that I devoured brought me to my soul’s truth.
Since the geese I saw this morning where flying as a group of 6 in the standard V-formation, I might also explore the symbology of the V shape. Andrews writes that it is symbolic of an opening, calling us to explore new directions and possibilities in our lives. For me, the V shape also points us to the creative feminine energies. It makes me think of the chalice and of the Queen of Cups in the Rider tarot deck, a card I have always felt closely aligned with, and which has spoken to me many times in spreads.
In the Queen of Cups card, we see a woman, a queen, sitting on a throne that appears to be partially on land and partially in water. She wears the blue of water on her dress and robe, the color of truth and the throat chakra. Yet, the robe is lined with hints of red, which ties in a ball at her neck, hinting at a mastery of one’s base fears, and a grounding. The queen holds a large (one might say, overly large) chalice in her hands, and she gazes intently at its mystery. The chalice is yellow gold, like the crown on her head, the color of divine energy and personal power (the 3rd chakra). There is the sense, from the card, that once the queen learns and opens the gifts of her chalice, she will be fulfilled, she will find her power, and she will find balance. It is, I feel, a card for the creative self waiting to be discovered. A card for women, with its symbol of the chalice held by the queen.
Andrews also writes in his section on the goose, that the bird, and its feather, can aid the writer’s quest, helping her to open her gifts within, and place them on the page. All this, from 6 geese passing over this morning. If I had been too lost in thought, I might not have noticed them.
Ask yourself what you are not seeing throughout the day, take care to pay attention, to watch and listen to the many forms in which the universe speaks to us. You can only benefit from doing so.
I am sitting here on my porch, listening to and watching birds. It’s what I would call a perfect May day, although we could use some rain. The sky is robin egg blue, the temperature is hovering around 70 degrees, and a gentle breeze is keeping the black flies at bay. The air, itself is infused with the song of birds.
Lately I have been marveling at the capacity of the song bird to produce such a full-bodied, melodious sound. Did you know that the voice of the song bird enables plants to achieve more optimum growth and produce more food? One only has to sit outside on a spring day to believe that this can only be true. There is something truly magical and peaceful about the song of birds.
The purpose of this post, though, is not to extol the lyrical gifts of the class of birds we call “song birds,” but also to explore their gifts as messengers from the spirit world. As I have written in previous posts, when we pay attention, spirit often speaks to us through nature.
Today, while I took the dogs for their early-morning walk, a male cardinal flew across my path and stopped in a hemlock on the side of the road, waiting to be noticed. Yesterday, while I drove my daughter to a sporting event, first a male, and then a female cardinal flew in front of the windshield, bisecting my path in a dangerously close encounter that I could not fail to notice.
When we encounter animals and birds in such a manner, it behooves us pay attention, as spirit is trying hard to get a message across to us. Cardinal was certainly trying to tell me something, so this morning I took careful note. First, I took inventory of my thoughts – the ones that were passing through my head at the moment the male cardinal decided to fly across my path.
I had, I quickly realized, been thinking, or rather, fretting over my desire to manifest more clients and grow my healing business – a subject that has been consuming me of late. As my daughter told me the other day, “Well, you told the universe you didn’t want a lot of clients before you have the space for them.” Yes, she was right, and I have been trying to “correct” that intent over the past several weeks, as I realize I am ready, and able to handle more clients while I wait for my new healing space to be created.
So, those were my thoughts when the cardinal passed over, which led me to my dreams. Last night, while I slept, I was telling a woman I had met, who was in emotional distress, that I could help her, but as I searched through my wallet for my business cards I realized they were missing. The previous night, I dreamed of sitting at the top of a very tall and long slide. It was red, rimmed in orange (symbolic of the first and second chakras, where we house our grounding energies, basic needs, and also our creative energies). The slide was steep, and had at least one “bump.” In the dream I was holding onto the hand rails at the side, very reluctant and fearful of descending. A woman at the bottom was urging me to let go and slide to my destination. The first chakra, I might also note, houses a lot of our most primal, deeply rooted fears, and the second chakra is also our sexual chakra. The slide, I realized the next morning, was like a birth canal, and I was being asked to let go and “rebirth” a new, fearless self.
Back to the cardinals I encountered of late. Today, when the male cardinal flew into the hemlock, I stopped briefly to ask its message for me. Do try this for yourself, if you don’t already, you’ll likely get a response inside your mind. The words that entered my own mind spoke of insecurities and self-confidence, they spoke of the symbolism of the colors red and orange, and of that beautiful, fearless, full-bodied song housed inside that small bird.
Being a natural “doubter,” I like to check my sources. So, I went home and read though the section on cardinals in Ted Andrew’s book Animal Speak, my personal, go-to guide for animal symbolism. And there it was, right at the top of the page, “Renewed Vitality though Recognizing Self-Importance.” In other-words, don’t give up on your dreams and keep walking your path, leaving fear behind. As Andrews also notes, cardinals with their loud, clear song, urge us to listen and heed the messages around us, while their colors remind us to breath new life into our ambitions, and assert our creative selves.
So, pay attention to the birds who cross your path, drink in the healing energy of their songs, and ask them what messages they hold for you.
Last night, before bed, my son asked me, “Mom, do souls ever die?” Had he asked me this question six years ago, I may have given him a different answer. My own journey of spirit in this lifetime began with a childhood of doubt, and the silencing of my inner voice. Many of us begin our lives (in this incarnation) this way. Few, I suspect, have had the gifts of nurtured guidance from our caregivers, for our world has yet to fully embrace the untethered spirit.
I was born into an unhappy marriage between two young, hippie parents. The hippie lifestyle outlasted the marriage, but it was not a free, loving lifestyle. My “spiritual” edification was early and short-lived. When I was two, my mother fled with me and my sister to live on a series of Hare Krishna compounds for 6 months. Other than the comic books my mother kept, and a few other relics, nothing remains of this early life. It was a mode of escape and of hiding, a journey based on fear and not the quest to find spirit.
When I was growing up, my mother and step-father shunned organized religion, and I had almost no knowledge of biblical stories, or other religious texts. Mine was an agnostic household at best, tending toward atheism. Yet, I do recall my mother speaking about the possibility of reincarnation – a “concept” I secretly embraced, as it felt “true” to my soul.
When I prayed, I prayed silently to an unknown, untouchable God inside the muffled walls of my mind. My prayers were desperate and laced with my childhood fears of death and loss. When I thought of death, and my body and “mind” disappearing forever, my heart would leap into my throat.
This way of living went on for many years, well past the time I left my childhood home, despite the nudging of my spirit, which wanted to be heard. A spirit that struggled for the full-bodied voice of Truth. Despite fear’s best attempts to close my third eye, I was an empathic child with psychic gifts. Everywhere I went, I felt the imprint of energy. Unfortunately, I absorbed fear and and pain more than anything else.
My parents labeled me as a “moody,” “overly-sensitive” child, not realizing that I was an empath, and was absorbing and feeling their own fears, as well as the fear-energy that permeated my environment. This is not to say that I didn’t feel love and joy too, I did, and often I shared in the joy of others. Somedays, I would find my mind open to this energy. While sitting in my classroom, there were moments when I connected with a classmate’s inner joy. These were blissful, unexplainable moments for me, as my cells hummed with unexpected joy.
And, I had dreams. Prophetic visions that played out in the ensuing days that I learned to doubt. When I left home, the voice of spirit called louder, urging me to leave the path of ego I was following. In the summer before I began graduate school for a doctoral degree in the biochemical sciences, I was plagued with these visits, which I found terrifying at the time. As I drifted off to sleep, many a night (or day), I would wake suddenly to a loud voice, calling my name into the hollow of my ear. This desperate call to be heard went unheeded, I followed the path of ego for one more year.
It was a miserable year, of which I’ve written about to some degree in other posts. Had I not taken this path, though, I would not have learned its lessons. I would not, perhaps, have known how much it contrasted with my inner truth.
Yet, still I was lost. That 5-year-old girl who secretly knew she was born to write and help the world with her gifts, was still hidden in the cage of fear. It took, in fact, motherhood and IBS to bring her out into the light.
When we have our own children, we are given an opportunity to see a new perspective that extends beyond the limited view we may be used to. We also see the world through our children’s eyes. Again, the nudge of spirit came back to me with urgency.
Before my daughter was born, I knew she would be one of my big teachers in this life. About six months before her birth, she appeared to me while I slept. I saw her full round face, framed with the same brown hair as mine. My blue eyes were mirrored back at me, their shape larger and more pronounced.
My daughter learned verbal language early, and by the time she was two she was asking me some tough questions. While her father was at work, she would peer into my eyes, “If daddy is a doctor, what are you?” she would ask. “But, what are you?” she persisted when I told her I was her mommy.
Her words lingered and probed the recesses of my mind. What was I? Her questions dug under the detritus of fear.
By then, I had both of my children, who are less than a year-and-a-half apart in age. My life was consumed by the joys and stresses of motherhood, and it was laced with holes. I could not deny that I was, in many ways, miserably unfulfilled. Yes, I had always yearned for the time I would be a mother, but this was not a role that completed me. There were huge, undeniable gaps.
Still, I ignored them. After all, I had young children to raise, a busy, working husband, and the idea in my head that I would not let anyone else be the primary care-giver to my son and daughter.
Welcome in a new night-time messenger, this time in the form of IBS, which began suddenly and in painful earnest. Let me take a moment to talk about IBS and how it relates to fear and empathic tendencies. When we spend a great deal of our time feeling and absorbing energy from our surroundings, this energy often gets trapped inside of us, lingering and growing into a dark mass of fear that blocks our inner-light, and creates an energetic imbalance inside of us. The result is often a disease or dis-ease of some sort.
I was a child plagued by stomach ailments, so it should have been no surprise that I developed IBS (a common dis-ease of empaths). My mother (who is in the medical profession) was the first person to suggest this was what was causing my adult ailments – episodes of such intense intestinal discomfort, that I would be up for 3-5 hours during nights when it flared.
I shunned this diagnosis, which I found both embarrassing and unsatisfactory in its inability to be medically “cured.” Two years passed, during which I made trips to doctor’s offices, tried various antacids, had tubes shoved down my throat and blood tests, and passed many a day feeling completely depleted of energy, which made me unable to properly care for my children.
Then, on Mother’s Day of 2008, I had my last episode. You can read the story someday in my memoir (when it’s published), but for now, let’s just say, I had had enough. I was ready to heal. Healing from a dis-ease such as IBS, or any energetic imbalance, comes from a deep-soul-level desire for health. The mind, body and soul must sync in this desire and embrace the truth that we each, inside of us, hold the capacity to be healthy and balanced – that, in fact, this is our natural, steady-state. For more on this, you might want to read Deepak Chopra’s book Quantum Healing.
I may have not known, intellectually, why I was ready and able to heal then, but I knew I had made that determined choice. A change inside of me had occurred – I had decided to heal, and in the process, to finally, heed the desperate, loud calling of my inner voice.
Within a matter of weeks, I was looking at graduate schools with creative writing programs. And, painfully, for it was a struggle, I began to write – really write. That voice that was so deeply buried was starting to emerge. At the turn of the New Year, I packed my suitcase with a week’s worth of clothing, snacks and various other necessities, left my two young children in the primary care of their father, and headed two hours north to a small town in Vermont.
Goddard College, was, in so many ways, the doorway to my voice. Here, for the first time, I was in an environment that felt like home. I quickly found 5 soul-sisters, and a setting where my spiritual and creative voice could sing without fear. Those two years, filled with the challenges of balancing motherhood and being a full-time, low-residency student, were the happiest, to-date, years of my life. There was no turning back. I had embarked, finally, with eager and unwavering feet, along the path of my soul’s truth.
When we find the bliss of our soul’s truth, how can we turn back? I can’t say that after I left Goddard, and the structure of regular deadlines, which “forced” me to write, that I have maintained a steady forward trek. Everyday life has a way of taking over when we let it. Now, though, I stop to listen, take inventory, and find a way to get back on the path.
When I look back at what where I have been in the last five years, I can hardly say I’ve been sitting still, or going “back-wards.” I have not only written many lines, I have nurtured and grown my spiritual calling and path. To help heal others, I have learned, we must heal ourselves. This isn’t to say that we have to be completely “healed” of fears, for this takes most of us many lifetimes, but we need to have an understanding and acceptance of the fears that have a tendency to make a home inside us, and we need to work at healing and letting them go.
Along with Goddard, and the many individuals and gifts I encountered by being there, I have met, and continue to meet wonderful healers, teachers and fellow soul-travelers. This part of my journey began with conversations with a friend, whom I met while our daughters were in preschool together, and gradually grew to include various energy healers, gifted intuitives/psychics and teachers of spirit, and soul-travelers who have merged into my life. When we open ourselves up to our spirit’s truth, doors open to the teachers and companions we need and seek. The world, suddenly, becomes unbounded and filled with the magic of discovery and joy. There is no looking back, except for remembering how far we have come, and the lessons we learned to get here.
May you, if you have not, find your own way to travel your soul’s truth, for it is the only, “true” path, to bliss.
Today, and everyday, let us be a planet of Hope and Love
Let us remember that we are held and fed by a Mother who nurtures unconditionally
Let us remember that we are here, together, as one large family
Let us find our way home
I love Diana Cooper. In her latest newsletter, she offers a wonderful meditation to help lift the fear-based energy that is causing so much tension in N. Korea. I’m including the link to it below. It doesn’t take much of your time, and uses the wonderful energies of the fire dragons and unicorns. By interchanging the leaders/persons, you could also use this meditation in other situations around the world, or even in your more immediate environment, to help lift the energy toward love/light.
My dog Rosy likes to dig. I’ve taken many picture of her digging up our back yard, and have adopted the policy that her digging will someday unearth buried treasure. I also tell myself that she’s prepping the earth for a patio. Sometimes we just have to look for the positive aspects of life in order to make the best out of a situation that we can’t really, or don’t wish to, control.
The other day, Rosy was digging, as usual, in the backyard, spewing the rich, thawed loam of the earth with abandoned joy. Her older sister, Daisy, was also outside, resting, and I realized what a marvelous partnership they had developed.
Look for the light of joy inside your days, even when you feel thorns pressing on your back. Beauty is always waiting to be seen.