Monday, February 08, 2016

Chocolate-Covered Prunes: Clarifying Your Intent


Driving to Oroville, a five-hour inland trek from the California coast, I was hot, sweaty and creased to the car seat. As I neared my destination, I passed a sign posted outside a shack that read, Chocolate-covered prunes. I broke up. This is an oxymoron!

Prunes are a biological green light. Chocolate is a red light. Eating the two together is a mixed blessing, likely to create a traffic jam in your intestines.

How many of us do this with our own health? Or relationships, business, finances — you fill in the blank. Perhaps you covet a certain plum account, person, dream house — then self-sabotage by "mixing it" with an action that aborts the flow. READ MORE

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Fire and Water: The Deeper Meaning Of What We Unleash

When I was deep into my spiritual awakening, I had startlingly prescient dreams; in one, the words, "violent emergency" reverberated through my mind. It was a violent emergence; birth is fierce. There is an ocean of difference, however, between Nature's ferocity and that which is deliberately inflicted by human beings with their own agendas.

Theologian and author Thomas Moore writes, "Deep in the etymology of 'violence' is a strong Latin word, vis. It is the power in nature that we sense in the surging sea and the growth of grass. In our experiences of violence we witness the vain attempt of life to push itself into existence and visibility. This is a sexual power. Sex is not just about making bodies but making souls as well. The people of the world need every opportunity to be creative and visible. They need to enjoy life, not just survive. Without that opportunity, they will turn to violence, in spite of themselves."

Life's Novocaine

We tend to go through life anesthetized against our own yearning. The call to claim our power can be terrifying, because it means accepting our invitation to the Dance — and most of us have forgotten how to dance, if indeed we ever knew. We find it easier to lash out in anger: rage, the undiscovered country. If being "outrageous" means getting the rage out, Americans are black belts. Having lost touch with the wilderness within, we savage the Earth and each other in an effort to combat our loneliness.

War is the grand expression of this misdirected energy. It's akin to our ability, or lack of it, to harness the power of the sun. Yoked to our solar egg, we could shine on in all our ecological radiance for millennia. Yoking means union, but we're used to living the more limiting definition of bondage. Trussed to our desperation, we sigh, "That's life!"  Since interdependence — becoming what Kenny Ausubel christened "Bioneers," or biological pioneers, co-creating with Nature — feels so foreign, we stay (un)comfortably in the familiar, pump up the volume, and wearily watch as the world turns.

There is a way out: it's through. The trees are gods and goddesses who in their stillness keep the Earth's counsel; the animals are our allies. We can commune with a snake or a sea lion as easily as with the people we call kin. The key lies in reclaiming our wildness — not as violence, but as an abiding, sensuous connection with Nature. Instead of experiencing everything at one remove, we can allow it to enter us. READ MORE


Monday, January 11, 2016

Can You Miss Yourself?

Most books, films and songs that speak of love refer to romantic love between two people. We're taught to look outside ourselves for completion, to seek the Other and to rejoice when we connect, or to keep searching.


What we're really seeking is a piece of ourselves, which is why we often feel incomplete when we link up with someone whom we hope will fill the empty place inside us. The wedding of the light and the dark, of the magnetic, receptive, lunar, "feminine" self and the dynamic, assertive, solar, "masculine" self, has to take place first within our own being. And yet — it's through relationship that we get there!

The beloved is a catalyst to help us merge the complementary aspects of ourselves. This is a radical idea, and challenging to hold. It turns everything we believe about romantic love on its head. I'll illustrate this apparent paradox with a personal example. READ MORE

Friday, December 25, 2015

Catalyst


It's dinnertime, and as I pull my car into my unpaved country driveway, Gaia is waiting for me, nine pounds of sienna fur and intelligent eyes that see into my soul. I sing to her, we play; her purring brings me joy. But when I first moved here, this cat and her gray companion were more a duty than a source of pleasure.
        
The former tenant, Brian, had begged me to feed them, even leaving behind a hefty bag of cat food. They weren't his cats, he explained. They'd befriended his cat, Sunny, and soon he was feeding all three. When he moved, he was torn: the other two belonged on the land, a twenty-acre parcel consisting of seven dwellings. Yet they'd become accustomed to eating at Brian's cottage. So I inherited them, grudgingly.

Connecting with my medicine animal

Initially I ignored the pair lounging on my deck, though the orange cat was slowly winning my heart. One day I bought a cat-sized bowl, placed it outside my front door and filled it with Rice Dream, a milk substitute that she lapped up eagerly. I intuited she was female, yet Brian had called her Fred, which didn't suit her at all. She was one with her environment, this little wild cat, a natural embodiment of the living Earth. So I started calling her Gaia. And our pas-de-deux began.

Gaia was at once wild and wary. She'd tear off like a shot when I approached. Once I called out as she was sprinting away, "Gaia! You don't need to be afraid of me!" She froze mid-flight, turning to look at me appraisingly. After that, our dance grew more intimate.

One night our relationship took a quantum leap, thanks to a little Divine intervention. I heard the telltale rustling, followed by a thud that meant "mouse". Sure enough, in the morning my ceremonial rattle was on the floor, and there were droppings on my altar and silverware. Disgusted, I thought, "The cat would sure be helpful here!"

At twilight I heard Gaia about ten feet away, and spoke to her from my porch: "I'll make a deal with you. Keep the mice away, and I will feed you." I felt intrinsic agreement from her.

The Rice Dream gave way to premium feline fare from my local health food store, and there hasn't been a mouse in the house since. At first Gaia proudly brought her prey to me for acknowledgement, often leaving entrails on the porch. I explained that while I was thrilled with her work, I preferred she dispose of the mice elsewhere. No more mouse remains appeared on my porch.

Interspecies connection requires that we humans hone our communication skills. This cat clearly understands everything I say. I only wish I spoke meow as well as she speaks English.


Innate intelligence personified

Gaia has been extraordinarily patient with me, as my primitive human brain struggles to understand what she's trying to tell me. After the rains started, I heard her mewing one night and immediately fetched a large box, lined it with an old towel, and placed it on the porch. But she wouldn't climb in. It took a few frustrating attempts until I realized I could turn the box on its side, thereby creating both a door and a roof. Gaia crept inside, and I rejoiced.

She has been one of my most powerful teachers. If I'm in a nasty mood, she doesn't want to be around me. If I'm relaxed and cheerful, she's there on the deck. She dislikes being photographed, and loves it when I sing. I make up little songs about her and croon them as I stroke her soft fur, feeling the vibration of trust and pleasure course from her being into my own. One time when I was crying, both she and her gray companion mewed their compassion. Cats are innate intelligence personified; it's up to us to decode the message.

Maybe what developing countries really need are feline ambassadors. Who could refuse that mew of hunger, the warmth as they rub up against you, the loving eyes gazing bottomlessly into your own? I know I can't. And I know that when I leave here, I will continue Brian's legacy. Because, much as I love her, it would be wrong of me to take Gaia from the land that is home to her, and from her friend. So I will grieve, and I will remember.

A catalyst is defined as something that alters the speed of a reaction while itself remaining stable. She has been as potent a force for my personal growth as any workshop I've taken, book I've read, or relationship I've shared, and I am profoundly grateful.

I may be buying the cat food, but Gaia is feeding me.


Coda: A month after releasing my cottage for a work stint on the East coast, I returned to see how Gaia was faring. A kindhearted man now inhabited my former space; when he saw me tentatively approach, he beckoned me in and asked all about Gaia. "She hasn't come up on the porch yet, but she's been watching me," he said. He was writing down what I fed her, and I knew she was in good hands. But his final words moved me to tears: "When she's eating on the porch again, every now and then I'll bend down and whisper your name."

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