Animal Totems and Synchronicities

When I thought to myself about how to write a post on indigenous wisdom in our everyday lives and how it applies in my life, I didn’t quite know how to start.  After all, my background is not of native, indigenous culture to the land that I now occupy.  I am Irish American, yet I have found myself drawn to the deep wisdom of Native American cultures and shamanic traditions, particularly in their relationship to nature and animal symbols.

A commonality across most native cultures and shamanic healing traditions is a deep reverence for the Earth and the wildlife that inhabits it.  Animal totems in Native American culture are looked at as spiritual guides or symbols representing a tribe, family or individual.  Often, Native American hunters would ask permission of the spirit of the animal before the hunt and send prayers of gratitude to its spirit after taking its life.  Peruvian shamanism in turn also has great reverence for nature and invokes animal allies, such as the jaquar, the hummingbird, or the eagle, in spiritual ritual to provide healing and guidance to the initiates who call upon them.

Ted Andrews writes, in his book Animal Speak: The Spiritual & Magical Powers of Creatures Great & Small:

There was a time when humanity recognized itself as part of nature, and nature as part of itself.  Dreaming and waking were inseparable realities; the natural and the supernatural merged and blended.  People used images of nature to express this unity and to instill a transpersonal kind of experience.

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The Great Awakening

We are in the midst of an awakening.

As Trump and his colleagues continue to bulldoze their way through governing, more and more people are recognizing what’s valuable and important in true leadership and waking up to the potential of leadership within themselves.  Many are waking up to the state of the world as is, versus what we know it could be.  Despite outer appearances, we are seeing the traditionally individualistic worldview of America beginning to crumble.  We have always known the value in promoting prosperity and peace for ourselves, but now we begin to ask, does that extend to our neighbors too?

“Oneness” is a principle not commonly discussed beyond spiritual circles, and it has now become a primary linchpin of political discourse.  What is the point of extreme division, either via racial, national, or political lines?  Should we or can we wish the same for others we wish for ourselves?  Why would discrimination and inequalities continue to make sense in a world that is rapidly embodying the inter-connectivity and speed of communication that has always existed under the collective surface…

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Marching is the Start

This is the force that will change the world.

I truly believe that. Women and those who stand with women in genuine solidarity will be the impetus that forces changes that have been too long in the making. Spreading love, compassion, and tolerance as opposed to bigotry and separation consciousness is not the purview of special snowflakes or “weak crybabies.” It’s actually the hardest thing we will ever do or ever undertake on this planet of ours.

It is much harder to love and accept the neighbor you disagree with than to spurn and hate them. Liberalism and conservatism are false divides and beyond the point in the larger picture of this planetary play of ours.

What is in our hearts? What is it that we really want to see?

These should be the questions we ask of ourselves and each other everyday. We may differ on how we wish to achieve it or the political talking points but partnering to create movement and change is the important part, even on a very small micro-scale or individual level, regardless of the inevitable dissent and bumps along the way.  And those who oppose equal rights and tolerance for all should be opposed with all the might and force of our ancestors behind us who lived this reality and rejected it.

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Creativity: Finding your Flow

The creative force…it’s the unknown magic behind the world’s greatest art, music, writing, poetry, and dance.  It’s something that has baffled scientists and researchers for many decades.  It’s an intangible quality that resides in some more than others.  Or does it?  What is creativity?  What makes someone creative?  Can it be measured?  Is it quantifiable?

In our never-ending search for mental knowledge and answers as a species we sometimes try to study and define the undefinable.  Researchers throughout the 20th century, such as Robert Sternberg, J.P. Guilford, and Ellis Paul Torrance, among others, have attempted to define, place labels upon, categorize, and develop tests of the elusive quality known as “creativity.”

Modern day researchers have linked creativity to constructs and domains such as giftedness, intelligence, reasoning abilities, and inventiveness.  Creativity has been defined by researchers such as Sternberg as “producing something original and worthwhile” or by Guilford as divergent thinking, the ability to generate a wide variety of possible novel solutions from an initial problem state.  Common Western ideas of creativity have also often traditionally included the idea of imagination or bursts of sudden insight, those “light bulb” moments so commonly talked of and so little often found.

These sorts of peak experiences have also been pinpointed by researchers as being something called a state of “flow.”  Flow is a specific state of consciousness defined as being completely absorbed in a singular activity, focused on a state of pleasurable producing where a sense of time seems to disappear.  Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a primary happiness researcher, discovered that during these optimal “flow” experiences, people are activating their creative abilities and often feel “strong, alert, in effortless control, un-selfconscious, and at the peak of their abilities.”

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Don’t Resolve, Manifest in 2017

Happy 2017!

New Years’ resolutions`are a common cornerstone of our experience at this time of year.  It’s like we feel naked without them.  They are a placeholder to hang our hats and say we’re starting anew, completely fresh.  We’ve gotten through the tough spots last year (we’re over it), and we’re ready to greet the new year with action and vigor.

The problem is our resolutions quickly lose steam by winter’s end, and self-criticism takes up residence.  While there are no perfect formulas for creating and attracting the changes you desire in your life, the idea of manifestation and allowing goodness to flow into our lives, rather than resolving and “making it happen,” is more aligned with creating desires that actually show up and stick in our physical lives.  Manifestation has become a big buzzword in New-Age circles thanks to books like The Secret, but what is commonly misunderstood about manifestation is that things don’t magically appear from midair through intent alone.   Rather, it is a process of continually coming into greater and greater alignment with the things that you desire and signaling to the Universe your persistence and strength in your belief that they are already flowing to you at all moments in time.

I find that the better I get at allowing rather than doing, my path to manifestation becomes clearer and clearer.  Seeming “coincidences” appear that push me down the right path, even if I never knew that path was available.  It still never happens with a snap of the fingers.  The process requires that I constantly bring myself back to a place of inner stillness, clear away old fear beliefs (that seem to be a bottomless pit) of not being worthy of or able to receive the biggest things that I want, and reassess what it is that I actually want or why I am “striving” for it.


Here’s what I have learned so far about manifestation….

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The Problem is Civil Obedience

In this video from three years ago, Matt Damon reads from a 1970 speech by Howard Zinn, author of “A People’s History of the United States,” in which he calls us out, as citizens, for our blind obedience to authority in the face of topsy-turvy value systems which have presented themselves as our reality.  He uses examples from history to highlight the dangers of too much obedience to the state.

The excerpt of this speech really gets your gears turning.  At least mine.  It makes me look and wonder where I have been obedient all this time, without merit…obedient to systems of thought I was taught by large institutions, either religious or educational, obedient to social standards of behavior, especially for women, or just plain old obedient to my own fears which told me I shouldn’t step out of line or be different…because that would somehow get me in trouble.

Now, I’m not necessarily advocating for civil disobedience in the traditional sense, but I challenge you, as we enter 2017, where can you become less obedient in your own life?

How can you break down and disengage from the “rules” as they were taught to you by your family or society?

“We were not born critical of existing society.  There was a moment in our lives (or a month or a year), when certain facts appeared before us, startled us, and then caused us to question beliefs that were deeply fixed in our consciousness-embedded there by years of family prejudices, orthodox schooling, imbibing of newspapers, radio, television.  This would seem to lead to a simple conclusion: that we all have an enormous responsibility to bring to the attention of others information they do not have, which has the potential of causing them to rethink long-held ideas.”

– Howard Zinn, 2005

What would it take to bring more freedom, outspokenness, and disobedience in your own life in 2017?

How Trump is Healing Us (Hear me out…)

In the now three-week wake of the recent U.S. election outcome, people, on both sides of the aisle, are still feeling unsettled, sad, angry, and divided, with families splitting, increased hate speech and crimes, and protests continuing in response to one of the most divisive campaigns from a presidential candidate and now President-elect in history.

So how in the world, you ask, is this healing?

I’ll tell you…it’s because we are finally viewing our collective national and ancestral wounds out in the open.

They are emerging front and center, whether we like it or not, and we are finally having a good, long look at the pain and division under the collective surface. One of the first principles of any good therapy or healing work is that we cannot heal what we are unaware of. Whether you ascribe to cognitive behavioral therapy, psychodynamic theory, or spiritual shadow work, one cannot change what remains hidden and avoided, whether you label them as negative core beliefs, unconscious wounding, or the”shadow self.” It’s the first step in the process of acknowledging, “yes, there is a problem, and yes, I am willing to look at it.”

So, we are no longer sweeping it under the carpet…

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