Posted on:  Mar 17, 2017 @ 12:00 Posted in:  Sabbats
At the portal where the Underworld opens to the sunlit realm, the Goddess Demeter waits for you, just as She has waited for Persephone from time immemorial. She is queenly in bearing and stature, clothed in a flowing gown of warm browns and soft greens, the colors of the good green earth. Her raven-hued tresses, faintly streaked with silver grey, smell fresh and fragrant, like rain-washed wildflowers. Though She smiles warmly in welcome, Her eyes, the blue black of a stormy sea, hold a great sorrow in their depth, and a great love.
One of your feet is still upon the cold, stone stairway that descends into the dark below, and the other touches the downy, green surface of Spring’s first grass. Both places lay claim to you: the Underworld with its mysteries and trials of darkness, sorrow and death, and the sunlit realm with its life-giving energies of light, joy and new growth.
Demeter reaches out a hand and pulls you upward into a mother’s embrace, tight and loving, with no separation between your two beating hearts. Then She takes your face between Her warm palms, gazing deep into your eyes and unearthing what you are made of and how you have changed since the last time She beheld your soul.
“Here, in the sweet-scented land of Spring,” Demeter says, “I have celebrated my daughter Persephone’s return from the depth of the Underworld. And here, I have long waited for this moment when you and your human kin would find your way back to my side and the ways of the Greater Mother.”
“Come, there are mysteries I would share with you so you will know the import of this turning point on your journey of soul, and in this Great Turning in the spiritual unfolding of humankind.”
Demeter leads you away from the biting drafts that reach upward from the belly of the Underworld and draws you deeper into the sunlit meadow, enlivened with bright clusters of spring flowers and the sounds of insects, birds and other wild things. You sit beside each other, with the green earth beneath you, the blue sky above, and the winds blowing fresh and balmy.
“When the world was young, there was no separation between humanity and the Great Mother,” Demeter begins, “Your primal ancestors lived at one with Her life-centered ways, just as Persephone stayed close by my side, and I protected and cared for Her, keeping Her out of harm’s way.
“Yet there comes a time when children must leave the circle of their mother’s love and find their way in the world on their own terms. Persephone left me to descend into the Underworld realm of darkness and death, and your ancestors turned away from the Great Mother and descended into a grievous period of your history. And so a long, cold Winter came to the Earth, where dominion and death overruled the creation and nurturance of life as the bedrock of your human society, and I mourned the loss of my daughter and the immense suffering of the Great Mother’s children.”
As Demeter speaks, you walk beside Her in Her remembrances, witnessing this long winter through Her tear-filled eyes and sorrowful heart. Long She wandered the world searching for Her daughter, and long She beheld the atrocities committed by humanity against each other and the living Earth. And as you walk with Demeter, the restless ancestors gather round you, victim and perpetrator alike, caught in the web of destruction and despair of this old tale, woven of our worst instincts of fear, greed, hatred and will to power.
Without words, you understand that our modern reality is a continuation of our ancestors’ lives, where our shadow overrides our light in a great imbalance between the worst and best of our human nature, and that the pain of your personal story has its roots in this much older tale.
“Yet as the seasons of the Earth turn, so do the seasons of humanity,” Demeter continues, “Many powers are converging, within and without, to wake humanity from its long winter of soul. Spring is in the air; Persephone walks the land above; and here you are, by my side, reaching for the ways of the Great Mother once more.
Posted on:  Mar 17, 2017 @ 10:00 Posted in:  Everyday Magic
Posted on:  Mar 13, 2017 @ 12:00 Posted in:  Path Basics
I dream of being with a woman elder who teaches me about a clan of good men with special spiritual energy that have been with humanity throughout our history. Then the dream shifts. I’m waiting on a street corner on my island home for a man to pick me up and give me a ride. I intuitively know that he’s part of this clan, a teacher and holder of this special energy. The car pulls up. He smiles and greets me. I get in the car and then the dream ends.
In my waking-world life, I know this man, and he is indeed of this special clan of good men whose presence and deeds can open hearts, heal souls and change our world. He’s a poet, teacher and Zen practitioner — a brilliant yet humble man, with gentle, penetrating eyes that seem to take in our world of beauty and sorrow with a deep love, wisdom and crinkle of humor.
There are such good men among us. They are the poets, writers, teachers, leaders, wise men and healers in our midst who kneel in reverence before the miracle that is life, and give over their hearts and hands in service of the very best of our human society: love, compassion, justice and beauty.
Oddly, the good man isn’t our cultural ideal of the masculine. Instead this ideal venerates “real men” who emulate a rugged self-determinism founded on domination and personal gain. In the battle for supremacy in our shared social order, real men fight their way to the top of the pile, reaping the rewards of wealth, power and adulation, indifferent to the price others pay for their success. Our modern political, social and economic systems are founded on this masculine ideal of dominion, will to power, and unfettered self-interest and greed.
It can be hard to recognize the good men among us given the long shadow of our cultural, real-men ethos. Many of us have experienced harm at the hands of an abusive man, or because of the misogynist roots and toxic male and female stereotypes that permeate our social order. Others may have a strong political or intellectual viewpoint that understands the role that men and patriarchal institutions have played in the worst of our human history and current malaise.
Yet there are good men in our midst, with big hearts and spirits, gifting their best in service of others and our world. And these men, with their positive masculine traits, are desperately needed as partners, allies and role models in the mending and renewing of our human society.
When I shared my good-man dream with my poet neighbor who appeared as the good man in my dream, he replied, “Yes, there are such men without a doubt. I’m glad you know, Karen. That, in itself, is worth all the dreams.”
To know the good men among us — to open our hearts and minds to their presence and offerings — is a powerful counterbalance and antidote to the clamor of the crazy, crazy of real-men masculinity, played out in the constant bad newsfeed of political mayhem, environmental devastation, economic crisis, income disparity and war.
Here is a simple exercise for claiming this powerful, healing good-man medicine in your own life.
Posted on:  Mar 8, 2017 @ 10:00 Posted in:  Everyday Magic
Read Post at: Freedom, Not Fear: A Lesson in Flying
Posted on:  Mar 4, 2017 @ 10:00 Posted in:  Everyday Magic, Featured
What does it look like to live from a place of freedom, rather than fear? How do we make this shift when fear has us in its grip? These are big questions that are best answered through life experiences rather than words or theory. So the Mysteries conspired to give me these experiences, using their foolproof formula for engaging me: my sleeping and waking dreams.
Flying is a powerful metaphor for freedom. For three days in a row, I had intense dreams about flying. I don’t remember the details, and I don’t need to. Three is the magic number and the Mysteries had my attention: they were gifting me with one of their life-changing lessons, this one about flying.
At this particular time, I was flying a lot, commuting by floatplane from my island home to my City client on a weekly basis. The morning after the third dream, I found myself as the lone passenger seated in the cockpit beside my favorite pilot, a big-hearted man with a quirky sense of humor. Out of nowhere, he slid the control wheel to my side of the cockpit and said casually, “here, fly the plane.”
I was petrified. Operating mechanical vehicles isn’t one of my strengths. I’ve forced myself, out of necessity, to master the basics of driving a car, but flying a little tin can of a floatplane above a stunning, but lethal, expanse of ocean and islands, was way, way out of my comfort zone. My grip on the wheel gave fresh meaning to the expression white-knuckling it.
In response to my ramrod-stiff body language, my pilot friend simply said, “loosen your grip, listen from the seat of your pants, and don’t worry, I’m here.”
And I got, in the flash of that terrifying moment, that this was a waking dream of the most powerful kind. The Mysteries were speaking to me directly through my pilot friend, teaching me how to fly in my life from a place of freedom, not fear: loosen my grip on life, let go of my clenching, deadening fear; soften my body, listen from my root, from my flesh, it knows how to be and dance with what is; and don’t worry, I’m held by the love and presence of God, Goddess and the powers of life.