On Choosing and following your own path

10 07 2008

Introduction

” What path is right for me?”, is a question that each seeker asks at least once in their lives. As children, most individuals follow the pathways of their parents. Even if a parent has no particular spiritual path, the child is influenced by their parent. This is almost genetic as, regardless of a path, the mother, to the child, is the goddess. As one grows older and begins to think for themselves, they begin to feel a desire to either embrace or reject their parental suggestions. This includes the chosen spiritual path of the individual.

In my own life, I have spent time in many “spiritual” and “religious” pathways. Some of these were even of my own choosing at the time, so I thought. However, as we are social creatures, even the most reclusive of us, we still seem to blunder about until we finally settle on what works well for us.

Over the years as I facilitate myself and others on reaching some kind of accommodation with their desires for spiritual connection, certain indications seem to be prevalent with the majority of individuals.

What is a Spiritual Path?

Dictionary.com defines the word spiritual, (among other things) as:

of or pertaining to the spirit or soul, as distinguished from the physical nature: a spiritual approach to life.

We will not concern ourselves in this article with the definition of the soul, despite differing presuppositional ethics, but accept this as a good working definition to add to our word “path”.

Again, Dictionary.com defines a path as:

a route, course, or track along which something moves, or a course of action, conduct, or procedure.

So, combining both of these we have a spiritual path is one where an individual is taking a route whether physically or metaphysically that pertains to the non-physical being of a person.

This definition allows for many diverse methodologies including those that are primarily of the phsyical realms, and those that are primarily of the non-physical realms.

Pressures that act as filters

As we stated in the introduction, many factors influence our examination and determination of our path. Some of these factors include, environment, social network, (including parents, friends, and co-workers), ethnicity or blood line, and connectedness, or lack of it, to the world around us.

Each of these act as filters through which we see the world around us. Ask any couple in a relationship how many times they “read between the lines” of a statement just to see how effective filters are in our daily lives.

One example of filters in relationships is as follows:

One partner is cooking dinner and asks the other partner: “Would you please take out the overflowing trash please?” The partner who was asks responds: “What, why do you do that, I work all day and of course I will take it out. I simply forgot. What do you think I sit and read all day? I work too! If it is too much trouble for you to cook dinner tonight then we could have gone out!”

The first partner is taken aback by the vehemence of the response as all they really asked was for their partner to take out the trash! Not everything else! The second partner read between the lines, of the other through there own filters.

While this is an extreme example, you can see what filters do in this mundane world, imagine what it does for our persuit of a spiritual path. Each individuals path is unique. One may utilize the same aspects of the divine, yet call them by another name. Take the deific aspect of healing. In some pathways, the deity of healing is Bridghid, (and lets not forget that spellings and language for even the same deity show regional differences), others it is Kwan Yin, and others Quanyin. Whole nations have gone to war over the NAME of a particular deity rather than listening to the aspect and intent of the name.

In our early 21st century world we have many examples of what I call “filter-itis”. Christians fight Muslims, Jews fight Christians, Wiccan’s fight Heathens, on and on and on.

Therefore, the first step in choosing a path is to put away the expectations of the society you are in and focus on the intent of the pathway without these filters.

Society and Acceptance

There is a quote from John Donne (1572-1631), which is in his “Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions”, Meditation XVII: that goes like this:

“All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated…As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon, calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come: so this bell calls us all: but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness….No man is an island, entire of itself…any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

While Mr Donne was a christian, the sentiment expressed above is still true, (See, I practice what I preach). We are social creatures that desire the acceptance of those around us. The problem occurs when we desire our existing friends, colleagues,family, etc, to accept our new choice, just because we do!

Our brother or sister, who follows another path, can not always see that our path is equally valid. Sometimes this is because they are not following their true path either, however, it can also be that they truly feel that there path is RIGHT and yours is WRONG. While, based on the concept that all paths are one path, ( my own pre-suppositional ethic), this is not necessarily the filters that others see through.

Therefore, seeking acceptance by others, while part of our social conditioning, does not “play well” with some of those around us that follow a different path.

I have many Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, ( not what they call themselves-a topic for another article) , Jewish, Pagan, Wiccan, eclectic, heathen friends, and family, the only thing that is important to me is that they respect my path as I respect theirs.

What to look for in a path

Since, each of us must live within our own filters, examine the path that calls you in as objective way as possible. If you are called to Quanyin, (the bodhavista form of the deity of Compassion and Love – androgenous) then accept that particular deity as one that speaks to you.

If you feel that the trees speak with you, and you can hear/feel this then follow this where it leads you and don’t automatically say, I am not ____ (insert apppropriate group here) and can not really be associated with trees.

If you feel that a particular set of rules (i.e. The Wiccan Rede) speaks to you and reverberates within, then follow it and find others that can support you.

What is important is that it fills some needs within yourself.

The next step is to investigate the teachings of the path and take on that which speaks to you.

Be true to yourself and don’t belittle, or agonize over the choices you have made.

Be confident in yourself. You are the one who must follow the path, so you are the only one that needs to “understand” the path.

Lastly, do not label yourself if it would put you in a box that you do not wish to be part. Boxes are created by large groups and if you are a “round peg” why fit into a “square hole”?

Enjoy the Journey! After all – ALL life is a Journey.. We don’t REALLY know what is TRUTH – (OOPS, another topic for another day)

Bright Blessings,

Alfred

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The White Stag and the Community of All People

21 04 2008

A white stag has been recently sighted and photographed in Scotland. These creatures are potent, magical figures, closely associated with unicorns. All Celts considered them to be
messengers from the other world. It is also considered to represent the quest for spiritual knowledge. The stag itself is a representation of the god Cernunnos and purification.

The white stag in Celtic myth is an indicator that the Otherworld is near and serves as a reminder that we are in a time of purification and renewal. It is interesting to note that the appearance of any white creature is an indication of entry into the Otherworld. As is indicated in the first branch of the Mabinogion where Pwyll entered the grove in Arawn’s hunting ground that serves as the basis for the continuing relationship between the Celts and the God of the Otherworld (Arawn) to this day. This stag had a white body with red ears–the typical colors of otherworld creatures including the hounds of Arawn.

White is the color of purity and otherworld being. The video shows that the stag is with other normal colored stags showing us that we need to be in harmony with our Mother’s Earth and all of creation. It also serves as a warning to us that we are rapidly transgressing her desires for both us and the planet.

The White Stag is also the heraldic standard of Henry II. According to Encyclopedia Britannica Henry II was:

… first of the Angevin kings, was one of the most effective of all England’s monarchs. He came to the throne amid the anarchy of Stephen’s reign and promptly collared his errant barons. He refined Norman government and created a capable, self-standing bureaucracy. His energy was equaled only by his ambition and intelligence. Henry survived wars, rebellion, and controversy to successfully rule one of the Middle Ages’ most powerful kingdoms.

While it may be doubtable that to the residents of Scotland and Ireland that Henry was a great king he did bring order and peace, although on his own terms, to this area of the current United Kingdom. His use of the White Stag as his standard and the appearance of the White Stag today should serve as a reminder of the times.

As we struggle through wars, religious intolerance, and imperial subjegation of indiginous peoples let us take a lesson from Pwyll. One must learn to be tolerant, respectful, and honorable to receive the blessings of the Otherworld. This is our warning to come together in a community that represents and fosters the love that we profess. We need to stop the tyranny of the few in a peaceful and respectful manner and stop imposing our will on any other group of people. Our proclivity to see the worst in our fellow people shows that the warning of the White Stag is apt. The Otherworld is a place of trust and truth – let us emulate this on our planet.

May we turn and seek the blessings that it represents and return with honor and respect to each other and our world.





Of Small ponds, coffee houses and other fishy things

22 01 2008

Is it better being a small fish is a large pond or a large fish in a small pond? One of the eternal questions in our fast paced Internet world .  Our information age has redefined large and small. Any individual with a computer and an Internet connection can have their thoughts, cogitations, spiritual beliefs, and predictive “powers” displayed for all to see.  In an earlier age, these conversations were relegated to the early morning coffee house and late night pontifications with a bottle of wine, or the smoke blend of your choice.

 Today, any search on the Internet brings a host of articles by individuals with diverse views on any topic. As an example query your favorite search engine for “spiritual enlightenment”. Everything from the far right to the far left of the spectrum. We are beginning to learn that the old adages are dying.

Honest conversation about differences are excellent, after all ( forgive yet another platitude) Iron sharpens Iron. If an individual is not secure enough in their own framework then how can they disparage another’s?  Growth is always painful, ask any mother of a teething infant, without it we all die.

In my earlier post, On Being Human,I propose that one can seek the divine within themselves to find the divine that is the greater whole. Wholeness is, for me, the goal of being on this planet. It doesn’t matter what an individual pursues, just that they pursue it and don’t expect me to follow it.  Each individual walks their path, if one is lucky enough to find that someone else is on the same path great – that is called community. Communities come together as a way to mutually support, love, and encourage each other. The universe is the biggest pond we know, we are all small fish. Every-time we attack another we bring down ourselves, waste energy, and time that can be better spent on growth, just look in our own backyards.

So, let the ego go, we are all very small fish in a very big pond.





History of Talesin

4 12 2007

Birth

Talesin began life as boy named Gwion Bach, a servant to the crone Ceridwen. Ceridwen had a beautiful daughter and an ugly son named Mofran whose appearance no magic could cure, so she sought to give him the gift of wisdom as compensation. Using the cauldron of knowledge, Ceridwen cooked a potion granting wisdom which had to be cooked for a year and a day. A blind man named Mordra tended the fire beneath the cauldron, while Gwion Bach stirred the concoction.One day as Gwion Bach was stiring the cauldron it became so hot that three hot drops spilled onto Gwion’s hand as he stirred, burning him. He instinctively put his hand in his mouth, and instantly gained great wisdom and knowledge. The first thought that occurred to him was that Ceridwen would be very angry at him for doing this. Scared, he ran away, but all too soon he heard her fury and the sound of her pursuit.

As Ceridwen chased Gwion, he turned himself into a rabbit. In return, she became a dog. He then became a salmon and jumped into a river, and in response, she then turned into an otter. He turned into a wren, and in response she became a hawk. Finally, he turned into a single grain of corn and hid in a silo. She became a hen and ate him, and became pregnant. She resolved to kill the child, knowing it was Gwion, but after he was born, he was so beautiful that she couldn’t go through with the deed. Instead, she threw him in the the sea inside a leather bag.

Discovery by Elphin

The baby was found by Elphin, the son of Gwyddno Garanhir, ‘Lord of Ceredigion’. Elphin was the only son of the king but he was not beautiful of face, nor a good warrior, or a good hunter. Each year at Samhain the King would go to the river Eyre and lift up a tfish trap. If there was a salmon in the trap then the year would be good. If there were many salmon then the year would be great for the whole land of Erye. When Elphin lifted the trap there were NO salmon and he was distraught. Thinking himself a total failure he turned to go and saw the leather bag with the child. He was very surprised at the whiteness of the boy’s brow, he exclaimed “Tal iesin”, meaning “radiant brow.” Taliesin replied, “Yes, that will do well enough.” While Elphin carried the baby back to his father in a basket, thinking of what his father would say when he learned that Elphin had caught a baby, but no salmon, the baby began to recite beautiful poetry, saying:

Fair Elphin, cease your lament!

Swearing profits no-one.

It is not evil to hope

Nor does any man see what supports him,

Not an empty treasure is the prayer of Cynllo,

Nor does the Goddess break her promise.

No catch in Gwyddno’s weir

Was ever as good as tonight’s.

“Fair Elphin, dry your cheeks!

Such sorrow does not become you,

Although you consider yourself cheated

Excessive sorrow gains nothing,

Nor will doubting the miracle.

Although I am small, I am skilful.

From the sea and the mountain,

From the river’s depth

She gives Her gifts to the blessed.

“Elphin of the generous spirit,

Cowardly is your purpose,

You must not grieve so heavily.

Better are good than evil omens.

though I am weak and small,

Spumed with Dylan’s wave,

I shall be better for you

Than three hundred shares of salmon.

“Elphin of noble generosity,

Do not sorrow at your catch.

Though I am weak on the floor of my basket,

There are wonders on my tongue.

“While I am watching over you,

no great need will overcome you.

Be mindful of Her gifts and none will overcome you.”

Amazed, Elphin asked how a baby could talk. Again Taliesin replied with poetry, recounting the transformation chase between himself and Ceridwen. Finishing, he said:

“Floating like a boat in its waters,

I was thrown into a dark bag,

and on an endless sea, I was set adrift.

Just as I was suffocating, I had a happy omen,

and brought to land to you.”

At the court of Maelgwn

A few years later, when Taliesin turned thirteen, Elphin was at the court of King Maelgwn, who demanded that Elphin praise him and his court. Elphin refused, claiming Taliesin was a better bard and that his wife a prettier woman than anyone the king had in his court. Although he was not present, Taliesin knew what was happening, because he was a bard of strong repute, and told Elphin’s wife. Maelgwn’s son Rhun went to Elphin’s house to seduce his wife and prove Elphin’s claims weren’t true. Rhun got her drunk, and when she passed out, Rhun tried to take off her wedding ring to prove her unfaithfulness. When the ring wouldn’t come off, he cut off her finger instead. When King Maelgwn attempted to show the finger to Elphin, he pointed out that his wife cut her fingernails more often than the owner of the finger. Moreover, the fingernails had bread dough under them, but his wife always had servants knead the dough. Moreover, his wife’s ring was loose on her finger, but this one was tight.

Maelgwn then demanded Taliesin come to his court to prove wrong the claim that Taliesin was a better bard than the ones in his court. Taliesin responded with a challenge in which both he and the king’s bards were to compose an epic in only twenty minutes. The royal bards failed at the task, but when it came time for Taliesin to recite his, he caused a massive wind to rattle the castle. Frightened, Maelgwn sent for Elphin. Taliein’s next song caused Elphin’s chains to detach. Maelgwn challenged the pair to a chariot race. Taliesin arrived the next day with an old, weak horse. As each of the king’s horses passed him at the very start of the race, Taliesin touched its rump with a twig of holly. When they had all passed, he dropped his hat to the ground, and the king’s chariots turned back right before crossing the finish line, stopping at the holly twigs Taliesin had laid there, and began to dance. Taliesin’s chariot strolled to the finish line and won the race.

 





Male Female Relations and US society

30 11 2007

While I was sitting in my favorite coffee shop the owner stopped by to ask a question. Why is it that all your clients seem to be young females?

Firstly, the first statement is patently untrue. The only reason he only sees the young female clients is that as a single guy it is always better to have coaching sessions with females in an open place. As I gave this answer to the individual in question he looked at me askance and I could see several thoughts going through his mind all at once. Frankly, I am grieved that we live in a society that has so trivialized relationships between men and women. I see this as a function of US society making any contact between men and women to be sexual. Honest caring has been replaced by sociopathic “little head” thinking.

This thought pattern goes with the patrilineal structure that we struggle against as humans living in an inhuman world. Where is it written that a male who cares, is sensitive and truly listens is a non-entity.

As a person who honors the sacred feminine, (yes I am pagan) I am constantly speaking out about the polarization (male/female) of our society. Gender is NOT the issue. If I was a female sitting with “young” females no one would even look at us twice. Yet, as a male I am suspect. How sad.

Each individual needs to find the balance of the male and female in themselves. I don’t care what you philosophical or religious paradigm is, if you believe there is a creator(ix) then there is a male and female part of the divine that we strive to integrate.

There are two genders, both created equally, so if the creator(ix) is both male and female, then it behoves us to find the balance within ourselves. Man can not survive without woman.

Less you are thinking that I am advocating a matrilineal society; the only society that truly reflects the divine, is one of equal partnership. Neither gender is subsumed by the other. In my research into “ancient” pre-Christian society I see that in many cultures men and women were equal partners. As I trace the changes in societies I find that it is only after the advent of Roman society that we have the polarization of gender roles.

A case in point, in Celtic tribes before the Roman Invasions, both men and women could be tribal leaders, healers, and priests. Only after the Pax Romanus did these roles become exclusively male. In fact, the struggles of the un conquered tribes was partially over the imposition of Roman Law in tribal lands.

In Native American tribes the medicine clans have always had both male and female members. Even trangendered individuals are accepted within the clan. In the time since the subjugation of many of these tribes we now see the polarization of the societies. True, many tribes had specific roles that were traditionally done by particular gender, yet if an individual wished to cross over to a non-traditional role it was allowed.

Our 21 century modern world is still struggling with the same questions. Women are still not respected in the marketplace, they are treated as commodities to be traded. Rest assured that the trading is more subtle, but it is still there. Try being a woman in a bar one night.