Sunday, February 28, 2010

Awakenings

At least one day of my week is spent at a prison or state hospital now days. Last Friday it was a state hospital. It is extremely different than the prison system I have become so accustomed to, But I have come to enjoy my time there.

One of the secrets to my success is that I don't overreach, I stay humbly aware of my limitations and I only share what I honestly believe, or know from experience. It's organic, I teach what I know from my experiences, and what I experience when I teach becomes part of my liturgy. I love that, because it keeps me a student of my own class.

This blog was originally established as "The Ink Blot Tarot." Which is an idea that works quite well and is one of my favorite group exercises within an institutional setting. Friday's participants pulled cards like DEATH and the Nine of Swords, and although I personally have no aversion to them, I was concerned with "their" possible interpretations of these cards. I was however, incredibly inspired by the results.

It takes an incredible amount of courage for most of these individuals to open up and express their feelings, for many reasons. So forgoing all the mystical tarot hoopla and/or violating the trust of my congregants, I will cut to the chase and share what I've been given permission to share.

Which is despite the lives these people have lived, the mistakes they have made, the personal issues they are struggling with or the seemingly bleak circumstances of their current existence, they remain incredibly optimistic. When I asked the person who pulled this card to chose one word to describe the overall theme or message or the Nine of Swords, the answer was "Awakenings" which was thus explained in great detail, in the most positive sense of the word.

It was the first time I saw that person smile. Which is why I do this.

Thank you Lord and Lady, for teaching me the importance of perspective. Blessed Be.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Lustravi

Our tradition like most, is progressive. Three distinct degrees have evolved from one simple yet profound axiom.

"Truth is my light..."

The first degree called the Viatori, is composed if thirteen grades. Each with their own lesson, their own knowledge and their own truth.

The lessons are taught through symbolism, the knowledge is applied through catechism, and truth lights the way through the darkness of ignorance, and the Wayfarer travels ever onward on the path.

But before we set one loose to navigate their way through the grades, degrees and higher mysteries found in the land of Veritas, we first inculcate perhaps the simplest of truths. It is the path that imparts all which is sought at the destination, it is the journey that is joyful, not the end. You cannot achieve happiness, but you can happily achieve. Or as Connie so wisely puts it, it's all about the process, not the product. I like that, thanks Sis.

There have been a few inquires about the Lustravi after my last post, so I though I would take the opportunity for a shameless plug of my book, which is almost done. I only have a few more chapters left but just haven't been able to get to it with all the seminary homework and the few extra irons I now have in the fire, which have become an understandable priority. Trust me you'll understand when it's time to brand those cows.

So here is a small piece on the Lustravi from my book...


The Lustravi

The lessons of the wayfarer are applied in a simple daily exercise called Lustravi (Luh-STRAW-vee) which is used to prepare ourselves for what author Dan Millman calls “the arena of daily life.” Before we can begin to find our way we must first to admit we are lost, and prepare ourselves to for the next part of the journey.

One of the features of our western culture is our linear sense of consciousness: We conceive of our lives as following a straight line, and we assume that everything has a beginning and an end. Many indigenous cultures, however, conceive of their world in terms of circles or cycles, like the seasons. We often place an emphasis on the beginning and end of a ritual or ceremony rather than thinking of them as parts of a greater whole.

On our never-ending journey through life, we occasionally stop along the way to rest. We may look back at where we came from and scan the distant horizon in anticipation of what is to come, before we pick ourselves up and soldier on. This is the lustravi, a series of stops along the path to catch our breath, gather our thoughts, appreciate the moment and continue. Lustravi is a Latin word with several meanings, all of which we use in the teachings of the exercise.

1. To Purify: The exercise starts with the purification of your consciousness. To begin, you assume either a kneeling or standing position and take a long, slow, deep, cleansing breath; at the end of your exhale, clap your hands together, moving into the classic prayer position. This is to purify the mind of distractions and bring the consciousness into the present moment.


2. To Circle or Encircle: Now breathe in a second long, slow, cleansing breath, opening your hands shoulder-width apart as you do. As you exhale this second breath, bring your hands out and around in front of you to form a hoop with your arms and slowly bring it in close to your navel, allowing the tips of your fingers to meet near your belly button. We create this circle to contain our consciousness, keeping our thoughts in the present moment.


3. The View, review or examine: Take in a third deep breathe slowly while you consider your current state of mind, your mood and your feelings. Now just surrender, accept them and let them go, then push them all out with a slow but complete exhale.


4. To Illuminate, or to make bright: Then close your eyes and look inside, there is a faint inner light deep within you. As you slowly take in your fourth slow, deep breath, allow it to grow brighter and fill your lungs. When you finally begin to exhale this breath, generate a low, deep hum and extend to throughout your exhale. Return your hands to the prayer position and as you inhale, slowly open your hands while envisioning a divine light emanating from within them, and then bring them forward to touch your face in a gesture of baptism, bringing this light into your consciousness.



(don't for get to smile)

The lustravi has neither a beginning or nor an end - it is perpetual and infinite. It has no limits, and you can perform the lustravi as long and as often as you like. It has no restrictions or conditions so you can practice the lustravi whenever you feel the need or desire. However, it comes with a strong recommendation of four times a day. Starting when you wake in the morning, once around mid-day, again at sunset and then again in the evening, usually just before bed. These four times are significant to the teachings of the wayfarer and are signified by his lodestone...


Monday, February 22, 2010

Ninety-Nine Red Balloons

It reminds me of ninety-nine red balloons, the way our thoughts can cloud the infinite sky of possibilities.
Especially when we don't know the outcome of something relevant which is bending, and usually seems to be quite critical.

In Morals & Dogma, Albert Pike wrote that force, unregulated or ill regulated, is not only wasted in the void, like that of gunpowder burned in the open air, and steam unconfined by science.

Air is commonly associated with the speculative. Thoughts, ideas, imagination and communication. I have become overwhelmed by an unstoppable force of "What ifs." My thoughts irrationally imagining and rehearsing every imaginable possible outcome, and that somewhat fantastic sequence of events that could follow. I find myself daydreaming about the fantasies of the best possible outcomes, and completely stressing myself out with the worst.

Thoughts give birth to actions, therefor the quality of those thoughts bare to the quality of the actions and so on with the sequence of events. So I have blown that ill regulated force into balloons to contain them, each as they come, and in this regard I have discovered an inexhaustible supply of hot air. (If you listen close you can hear those who know me laughing)

Dan Millman has always been one of my lifelong favorite authors. He wrote about the concepts of the infinite here and now, about staying in the moment and no matter where you go, there you are. Within my tradition we teach a technique called the Lustravi, it's a lifelong ritual with no beginning or end, it is performed from "time to time", to keep us centered within the infinite here and now.

It keeps me sane, it keeps my eye on the ball and my head in the game, which has become so indescribably difficult, considering the relevant possibilities, which are currently pending to make history. Imbolc symbolizes the pregnancy, before the birth of a new life in the spring of Ostara. Make no mistake, there is a big shift coming, and the labor pains are never easy, but the new life is worth it.

Until then, the Lustravi is my BB Gun and I will keep plugging away. Pop... 98, pop... 97, pop... 96...pop*

PS* I just "found" my Gmail box, and realized I have been receiving mail at that address, from readers of this Blog for well over a year. So to all of you who thought I was a stuck up ass, you may be right, but at least now you know that I will be writing you back soon.

Blessed Be.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Changing Memory Lanes

Its funny when you think about it. We've all been there, and we all drive right past there nearly everyday without ever giving it a thought. But every once in a great while, something happens, we get cut off by some idiot in the traffic of consciousness and veer sharply into a memory lane.

To celebrate our birthdays, my daughter and I considered making a drive out to the Monterey Fisherman's Wharf, just for the claim chowder. I grew up on the coastline between Monterey and Santa Cruz, but I've seem to have forgotten about that.

My Grandfather was found in his apartment in a state of extreme dementia and was hospitalized for several days before being moved into residential care, so the trip was not longer a consideration but an unquestionable reality. He remembered me. (Thank you Lord and Lady.) He was happy and surprised by the visit. He talked positively about his health and his happiness, and he changed lanes here to WWII and back, but we had a nice drive.

Watching his expressions as he spoke knocked me into a lane that's been a blind spot for quite some time. I remembered when he ran his own gas station, he used to put me on the hydraulic lift and tell me if I was brave and touched the ceiling I would get a reward. Which explains why I have no fear of heights and always bought myself candy corn every time I repelled out of a helicopter or off some tower when I was in the Army.

Driving though the area I lived most of my childhood was incredibly strange as an adult. I have lived such a full life already, which seems to overshadow most of my very happy childhood. Every street, side road and back alley triggered some obscure memory or flashback. The scene of a crime I had witnessed or committed. A girl I knew. A guy I fought. A party I was invited to and the one I crashed. That one place I never wanted to leave and the one I went out of my way to avoid. Most of these memories have had a direct effect on who I am right now as I write this, except a few odd ones.

I saw a place, which lead to a memory, which lead to a memory. A memory of me watching my Aunt playing under a tree with a little boy, me. In fact several memories have surfaced which are from a third person perspective, I was watching me as a child. Which can only mean a couple of things, all of which are funny when you think about.