Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Request an oracle reading online

Last summer at the Cortes Island Friday Market I used the Journey Oracle deck to give an oracle reading to many residents and visitors to the island. Now in this dark time of the year, when many of us want to receive a reading about the year ahead, I am offering you this experience online. We will create an intimate relationship to the Journey Oracle deck online, not by asking you to draw cards for your reading in an electronic way, but by creating a personal relationship with the Oracle herself—using our online contact as a way to begin.

During my summer of polishing my ability to give a powerful reading from the Oracle deck, I received many questions about how to contact the spirit world, how to find a spirit helper, how to enter successful relationships or exit difficult ones, and even questions about how to ask good questions. All these topics and more can now be explored online with an oracle reading.

Our online oracle reading will begin by you thinking of a situation for which you want guidance, and then emailing me at journeyoracle@gmail.com with a number from 1 to 47. Do not describe the situation or give me any details about yourself—send me only a number from 1 to 47 and a one word category for your situation, such as "37 / work" or "21 / relationship". This will enable me to draw the first card of the reading. I will send you a psychic reading of your situation as I see it in the card. You will gain insight by applying the reading I send online to the situation you are thinking about.

This one card oracle reading is free until January 6, 2010. Go to www.journeyoracle.com/journey-oracle-cards.html to read about how you can purchase a deck and create a reading for yourself.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Creating Solstice traditions

This story about my first solstice celebration is one of 47 spirit-directed stories in the Journey Oracle divination deck.

A man and a woman were just beginning to be together, and wanted to make their own holiday traditions. They decided they would stay up all night on the longest night of the year, and remember how much they loved the sun. The man and woman decided they would make a feast, but eat without any of the conveniences that get in the way of the sun on earth which is fire. They gathered one food of each kind that kept them alive: meat, fowl, fish, root vegetable, vine vegetable, plant vegetable, fruit and nuts, and went out into nature at sundown.

They made a lean to for shelter and built a fire just beyond its rim. They invited the sun into the flames and watched them on the prowl for wood to eat. The wind came to the feast and pushed the smoke and cinders of the fire into their eyes and mouths. “This is no loving parent,” the couple said. “The wind is stalking the edges of our feast because we forgot to make a place for it to sit.” And so they told stories to the wind, and cleared a place where it could play inside the shelter. The man and woman stayed captured by the night, playing games and eating each food separately that they cooked over the sun on earth which is fire.

At sunrise the couple felt that something had been begun. They were sooty from being played with by the wind, and greasy from doing without the conveniences of serviettes and utensils. The man and the woman walked to a bus stop to ride home. Although the bus that picked them up was crowded with early morning commuters going to work, all the seats around them remained empty.

“I think there is judging that we are not correct” the couple whispered to each other as they noticed their stained clothing and wood-smoked hair. “Truly, by feeding the longest night something has been begun on this day.

Although we now go into nature on solstice day, rather than at sundown like in this first celebration at a park on Oahu, Hawaii, for 31 years we have never missed spending this shortest day of the year feeding the sun and the wind, and thanking all the creatures that keep us alive. Now we light a bonfire at dusk to give the sun strength, and when we are again back inside with stained clothing and wood-smoked hair—we feel the honor of still showing up to something begun so long ago.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A middle world shamanic journey

Sometimes I use the Journey Oracle cards to frame a question, rather than to find an answer. This helps me prepare for doing a middle world shamanic journey. Michael Harner writes about how the “middle world” is this world with the veils removed. It is important that these journeys be carefully framed with clear intention and questions because of the danger of talking to spirits whose agenda you do not know.

Here is a journey showing how I proceed. First I ask the cards to show me a situation in my daily life that needs resolution. I focus on my ordinary reality for this journey because the answer comes within the forces and creatures of this world. I draw card 12 and in this moment interpret this powerful image as one showing me my occasional jealousy of other’s success in internet art marketing. I find my question for this journey by deciding to turn the card over.

“Am I listening” immediately prompts another question: “to what? The person in the picture seems to have no left ear, while the right side is filled with swirls, perhaps of sound. I decide to pursue this right left symbolism as the focus of my journey. I associate my left side with action in the spiritworld and my right side with action in this world. To what action am I being shown to listen?

I decide to take a walk for my journey and set my boundaries carefully—from the front door out to the front door in—so I will know the parameters of the journey messages. A strong wind strikes me on my right side as I leave the porch, and I notice the gate bell rings loudly in my right ear as I pass. I see a rough path in the woods on the right and go this way, even though my dog would rather keep going straight. At the apex of the woods trail the wind is now full in my face. When I turn left at the base of the hill to return home the wind becomes blocked so although I can hear it I cannot feel it. At a three pronged trail intersection I let my dog choose the direction and she goes right, even though this is not our usual route. As I come back up the hill the wind stays blocked and the gate bell, now able to ring in my left ear—is silent.

The journey is showing me to listen to the right: this is where movement is coming from, although at first it is difficult to see and I have some resistance to going this way. At the apex of my first choices for successful internet art marketing, I will feel movement from both sides. After a period of quiet I am again shown to choose the right side; the action in this world. I now have clear direction from my nature-world guidance to choose the human-world work…and I enjoyed a walk in the woods.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Creating a Green Burial

I have just returned from a green burial for my friend who died recently. What a powerful experience. I felt that this is the way that is right for the earth. My friend’s body was placed in a shroud instead of a casket, with no chemical embalming, and no headstone. The Royal Oaks Burial Park in Victoria, British Columbia is perhaps the only one in Canada now offering this remarkable new, old way to return our bodies as food for the Holy.

I was asked to officiate at the ceremony, and began by calling the winds to bring the spirits to witness the beauty of her life told in stories, poems and songs, as these became an embroidery of eloquence on a beautifully embellished shawl already draped over her body, made by her circle of women friends, so the ancestors will recognize her on the other side.

The most moving part of the ceremony for me was when myself and other women sang while I drummed, as her many friends and family moved slowly past her body, strewing it with flower petals. The petals continued as a rain of beauty and tears into the grave, as her body was lowered to the earth. When I now think of her body lying within the moist darkness of the enveloping earth, I am comforted anew to know its energy of transformation can touch her directly.

Once home I asked the Journey Oracle cards to show me insight about this experience, and this image came. The question is particularly meaningful to me, because I believe when we recognize a way of being in right relationship with earth and spirit, we become responsible for manifesting that way, as best we can, so that like a seed cracks open and cannot resist reaching for the sun, we enable new behavior to come into the light.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Death Song

My friend is dying, and I am seeking advice on how to be with the power and sadness of her passing. I look through the Journey Oracle divination cards, letting any card come into my attention. I ask the most beautiful to choose themselves.

I think we all have taken a wrong turn in this modern culture that hides from death, and so we do not know how to be open and prepared to meet Death consciously. We may know we will stand in the light, but few of us know how to be in the dark ravine that leads to that vista.

I believe none of us want to suffer the often unbearable pain of terminal illness, yet there must be another way to get there, than to be made unconscious with sedatives in the name of comfort. What do the folk ways of our ancestors tell us about making a good death? Surely there was a time before our fear when we knew, and had help knowing, how to curl into a new seed.

During my time with Martin Prechtel at Bolad’s Kitchen, he told a story of how in Santiago Atitlan, neighbors would stop a pregnant lady in the village street to sing to the child in her belly. The baby would hear the community singing this same song as she was being born, and again the singing would hold her as an old woman when she was dying. Maybe we can begin to remember how to help those we love to die by remembering to sing to them—not just once but continuously so the song becomes a boat on a river of breath, carrying them into the view of friends and creatures with kindly eyes, on the other side.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Meditation relieves depression

Several days ago I felt a depressive sadness, and then I remembered not to collapse into the feeling, but to meditate on the arising feeling itself, therefore dismantling my reactive emotion to it, as Ken McLeod describes in Wake Up To Your Life. What happened is this.

I had sent a video email of an amazingly complex musical instrument to my brother, wanting to share my wonder that such an object was in the world, and he sent back the reply, “isn’t it amazing what they can do with computer animation these days.” This seems like a simple exchange, but I watched my joyful belief in the usual magic of art crash into self-doubt and then self-criticism as I felt such a fool to believe in magic at all.

I appreciate that my brother’s comment didn’t have to be understood as a judgment, but since we don’t talk much, what I hear when we do can easily become distorted. Then I read in Joseph Goldstein’s book, A Heart Full of Peace, that “sometimes we feel the painful aspect of experience is a mistake.” With the awareness that all experience is a valuable teacher, I asked the Journey Oracle Divination Cards to show me what my lesson in this exchange with my brother was.

The card I drew is the most unusual one in the deck. It represents fate and is much like the blank rune in the runic alphabet or the Fool in the Tarot. Each person answering life questions with the divination cards must name the meaning of this card for herself as it has no statement, question or number like the rest of the deck. I have named this white side, with its full moon shining on a journey through spring and summer: “Plenty to eat in every direction.” This means to me that whatever meaning I assign to my conversation with my brother has a lesson for me, and that this lesson is coming to nourish me. As I realized this I regained my joy. To me the amazing musical instrument is playing magic, and that is enough to believe.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Advice for successful relationships

This free reading from the Journey Oracle will give advice for having a more successful relationship with someone or something. Think of a relationship that needs improving. It may be with your partner or child, or with someone at work. This relationship could also be with a creature or person met in a waking dream or during sleep. This is the card I drew to describe insights about your relationship as it presently exists.

In this relationship I see many different perspectives or points of view. Some are more clearly defined than others. Although there are possibly intense or passionate actions to be taken, the largest energy available to you for movement is presently not doing much. The higher levels of this relationship are reflecting white light, but seem precariously balanced on the lower energies. How does the question; “Do I have my own story to write?” apply to this relationship at this time? Consider that when we begin a creative action like writing, we must make choices which move us toward certain directions and away from others. Do you think that this relationship needs choices that create movement at this time?

This is the card I then drew to receive advice from the Oracle about what next steps will improve this situation. I am shown two halves coming closer together. The action side of this relationship has the ability to speak. I see what appears to be dramatically differing backgrounds having a shared power that connects the dissimilarities. The receptive side of this relationship is more openly spacious and uncomplicated. What does it mean in this relationship to be “in my process?” Consider that a process implies an unfolding in time. Do you think that this relationship needs time to unfold?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The power of dreams

One of the nice things about writing a weekly blog that very few people are reading is that occasionally I can say outrageous things and no one will notice. I am now beginning to think that Marc Bregman is the dreamtime Antichrist, spreading evil by disempowering the dreamer’s ability to receive meaning through her own knowing, thus necessitating the sending of dreams to strangers in order to receive revelation.

I acknowledge that in recent blogs I have praised Bregman’s radical non-interpretive approach to dream work, as described by Roger Kamenetz, and I am still impressed with many of the points made: that the meaning of our dreams are manifest in their images and our feelings rather than in hidden layers of encoded symbols; that often “bad is good and good is bad” when understanding our dream characters and their actions; and that dreams present a fracture in the logic of their structure or sequence (i.e. waiting to board the ferry while seeing there is no ferry or terminal) which allows an entry for meaning.

Instead I am disquieted by the apparent belief of Mr. Bregman and his followers that I, the dreamer, am the least trusted to see the true meaning of my dreams. I feel deeply that the giving away of my faith in my ability to understand my soul’s progress in my dreams is the beginning of the darkest night of the soul that I can imagine.

I asked the Journey Oracle to show me about this situation and I drew this card. This fantastic turkey is the image of the Celtic tree month Ivy. I was especially drawn to the four themes of meaning associated with the tree month suit: Connection, Exchange, Intuition and Power. This is my relationship with my dreams. At some point, as a child, I walked out on my imaginary companions. I must have because I can no longer remember their faces or call their names. Sometimes when the dark is cold and quiet I feel I still hear that slamming door. But I cannot walk out on my seeking meaning in my dreams. The sound of that door shutting would be the death of my spirit.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Choosing a life path

What helps us to radiate the energy of the life path we choose to walk? While at a community event last night a young friend said, “You are certainly looking shamanic these days.” He quickly qualified this by saying there was something in my manner and my energy that felt shamanic, and not that I was wearing something or behaving in a way that could be labeled shamanic. I smiled and said, “Lots has been going on,” and then later wondered to what I was referring in that brief exchange.

Many projects begun over the stretched-tight dry days of summer are now coming to fruition. Drums that seemed to languish have found their names and faces, a painting that felt stalled has moved to the framer, clients for shamanic work are returning like the rain who’s blessed sound drums on these days of autumn. Yet other projects are going quiet from a summer’s heat of effort. My promotion of the Journey Oracle deck is not so public right now, because these divination cards in their hand-crafted cases are undergoing changes in printing, which will make the price more accessible. I am also beginning to gather the earlier spirit-directed layouts for reading the cards into an exciting advanced workbook.

And the answer to this question? I think we radiate the vitality that the energy of making a choice gives us. When doubt and indecision plague our awareness—our physical, emotional and spiritual energy is blanketed by a fog that chills through our bones like the grey light of November. It seems that what matters is to choose, to decide; what matters is to act. Why am I looking shamanic? Because I am acting shamanic.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Full moon meanings

The three days of the full moon are each filled with a special energy, and any one of the three is appropriate for gathering--depending on what a group might want to do. Some practitioners of the Old Religion say the waxing first day of the full moon is for increase, the full second day is for reckoning (accounting) and the waning third day of the full moon is for clearing, and/or for sending wishes to manifest within the month of the next full moon...which would then be welcomed on the day of increase and "reckoned" on the full moon day and on and on.

Each of the four card suits in the Journey Oracle is associated with themes of meaning. The full moon cards carry the themes of Discipline and Trust. It takes discipline to honestly reckon the way in which our intentions and wishes have manifested across our month of daily experience, and certainly it takes trust to cast our desires like a shimmering net out to the next moon, hopefully to catch what we need more than what we want.

Discipline and trust are best not treated as conditional. Discipline lives at the core of responsibility. It means feeling what is required, and doing it, more than negotiating or interpreting what is known of that responsibility. Trust lives in the rarest atmosphere of all. The one that surrounds us when we feel that someone or something is depending on our actions. Trust relies on discipline like the tides need the full moon. Ultimately, the only question that really matters is this one that came in a dream for the Blue Moon card in the Journey Oracle.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

New shamanic art

I have just finished a new shamanic art piece and now see that the lesson in this work is about “painting what is not there.” Water is a very strange substance to render visually. The surface is always shifting and only visible at all because of what it is reflecting in each moment. This is also how I understand the experience of the alternate realities, whether these be the dream worlds, the subtle ah ha we feel when we catch the significance of a synchronicity in time and place, or the way that metaphor and analogy can shimmer on the edge of our awareness in the moment when we grasp their larger correspondences.

Often our response to this shifting water experience of seeing and not seeing is doubt. In my shamanic mentoring practice I counsel so many people who know what they have seen, and just as quickly doubt that anything was there to be seen. I often have clients experience a shiver of insight during a Journey Oracle card reading, only to doubt that such an awakening will make any real difference in their situation.

Richard Wagamese writes so beautifully in Keeper’n Me about how we all have to search out our own truth and find our own life. How do we find what is true for ourselves when mostly what we see is a reflection? For myself, I am learning to stop asking so many questions and just watch. Watch the day, watch the weather, watch the seasons always transforming in each moment. In this painting, titled Reckoning, I watch my truth emerge in a bear skull and water and the shifting of life and death back to life.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Dream Counseling

Like most people, I resist change when it first comes into my awareness. But sometimes that moment of awakening is so compelling and complete that the change happens in the turn of my head, or in my pause between breaths. I have recently been reading The History of Last Night’s Dream by Rodger Kamenetz. His bold advice to stop translating my dreams felt like being told to “Wake up!” and my sleep hasn’t been the same since.

Following his guidance I have been able to enter my dreams at a completely different level of meaning, derived from visuals and feelings rather than symbols and words. I went to bed last night thinking about what the Journey Oracle cards could show me about this new way of being with dreams and thought of this card.

During the night I had this dream: I’m going with First Nation women to what appears to be a restaurant. Inside I see many babies in rows on several beds. Each is in an open CD cello storage envelope. None are crying or fussy; all seem to be either quietly waiting or sleeping. I touch one child like I am going to pick her up but she turns away from me several times, each time seeming to grow older and larger but still not showing me her face.

I associate First Nations women with emerging potential and enduring strength; especially I feel this of the Klahoose first nations women I know here on Cortes Island. Yet the “hole in the dream” that Kamenetz refers to suddenly became the question, “What are all these children doing in CD wrappers?” I store my divination decks of cards in these cello envelopes, and often display the individual cards in rows. I realized that these babies are the Journey Oracle card decks, waiting for me to go more deeply, but to what?

I have always thought of understanding each card, and especially of understanding the story that corresponds to each card, in a way parallel to translating a dream. Perhaps translation is not what is called for. Perhaps they are waiting for me to “return to the source” and receive meaning from visuals and feelings. Perhaps the dream work is not to be kept in the night, but brought as a counselor into the day, teaching me a new way of finding revelation in the Oracle’s spirit-directed art.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Building a Shamanic Rattle

Building a shamanic rattle is like putting together a puzzle without a picture showing the final image. The process of constructing the hollow rawhide shapes is quite simple: wet pieces of hide are sewn together and filled with sand and sound-making materials. When dry the sand is shaken out and the rattle’s voice is heard in each hollow shell for the first time. But what creature or element wants to have such a form in this reality? And what materials will make its voice? And how will you know the quality and volume of voice is accurate if you cannot hear it, before it is too late to change it?

The answer for me is in creating correspondences, or associations, with the materials that intuitively feel like they are coming to be in and on the rattle. This is much like discovering associations when doing dream interpretation. I might be drawn to include small cowry shells and so I ask, “In my own story, with what do I associate their smooth porcelain surface, their use as currency among many traditional peoples, and their symbolic association with womanhood, fertility, birth and wealth?” The answers will guide me to the location and number of shells that I attach to or include in the voice of the rattle. Over time, as each material is explored for its associations to my present spiritual experiences, the meaning and use of the rattle emerges.

Reading the Journey Oracle cards also unfolds like a puzzle. After I think of a situation for which I need clarity, I choose a card and describe its colors, shapes and images as simply and directly as I can. I then go back and ask of each description, “What do I associate with this? These associations shift each description to my inner knowing, and give me insight about the situation that caused me to draw the card.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Art in the Medicine Wheel

I think of my kinds of creative process as directions on the Medicine Wheel. I align my drums with the west, my shamanic mentoring with the south, my painting with the east and the Journey Oracle card deck with the north. Sometimes one of these directions will seem to disappear from my view, and I will rest from its effort. This happened across the last several years with my drums. I seemed to forget that I knew how to make and paint them, and that they were my first doorway into shamanic journeying. For several years I thought I was finished with this work, but how can the west disappear from the constellation of my relationship with spirit? And then I made and painted this drum.

This is the first elk skin drum I have made; its darkly-mottled, translucent skin received the paint very dramatically, and Lightening Bear appeared. I know now that a rest is not a conclusion; a pause is not the end. I see now that my commitment to my drums needed to renew itself in quiet, in the same way that this season of the year—the autumn that I associate with the west—needs to fold the rush of summer into stillness, in preparation for the quiet of winter that becomes renewal in spring.

Perhaps my readings with the Journey Oracle divination deck are also coming into a quiet time. The press of summer residents and visitors has left the island, and a growing stillness surrounds my opportunities to share the hidden teachings in the Journey Oracle. And yet the great storms of November are whispered on the breath of breezes that shiver the cedar brackets into the ponds and cover the roads with gold. Perhaps the time of the Journey Oracle is yet to come, in the dreaming and story-telling of a northern winter.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Success in spell casting

We all cast spells every day with our wishes, our intentions, our focused yearning for a different outcome to the one we are presently experiencing. Yet successful spell casting requires that we not tell the outcome how it will be achieved. This means that when we work to shift the river of reality with our intention, we do not try to name or visualize the ways in which our intention will be manifested; we only visualize that the manifestation is happening.

This simple story is a good example. During the summer months when I was meditating at Dorje Ling Centre on Cortes Island, I was often distracted by the bees that would come in through the open windows and doors, and then struggle against their prisons of glass. Rarely would I cross the space, stepping around my fellow mediators in anxious concern for the interruption I was causing, to conduct the insects outside. And yet always I wished for some solution to their plight.

And then we received an email from the Centre titled, “Do you know this doggie?” It seems this cheerful bodhisattva had wandered in to apply for the position of temple dog. Even after her owners were located in the neighborhood, Darla continued to visit the temple, and was there being doggie-sat when I came for meditation this week. Again we were sitting when a large bee began bumping against the entrapping window—and suddenly Darla was up and at the glass. She seemed to have every intention of eating the creature. Of course her disturbance was quickly responded to—the bee was efficiently caught in a stone bowl and escorted out the window by someone close by. I could never have imagined that my desire for bee safety would be manifested in the presence of Darla, and yet the solution was perfect.

During readings with the Journey Oracle Divination Cards, solutions to our questions manifest in the card images, stories and oracle phrases. This is especially true if we do not try and control how we want the solution to be achieved.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

How to build a drum

Several days ago I helped a young woman build a drum. We prepared the hoop by feathering thin lengths of ash wood together and clamping each layer into a sister mold. We spent time working with the electric planer and the belt sander, so that she could do the beveling and finishing of the rims herself. The ring that holds the thongs on the back of the drum was made from a cedar branch, chosen for just the right straight thickness and paid for with songs and a hand made bead.

The drum head was cut from a deer hide after the hair had been slipped and the fat scraped until the membrane shone with a translucent glow. The young woman cut thongs, trimmed to size and then punched holes in the drum head, all in preparation for the assembling of the drum.

And then we came to the part that cannot be taught. How loose should the drum head be when laced onto the hoop, to accommodate the shrinkage of this particular skin? How does one see the vibration in the still wet skin, to gauge how the sound will flow over the entire surface? How tight should the thongs be that anchor the voice of the drum? Do the thongs that hold the cedar ring need to be adjusted as the skin dries, or is the initial tension the right amount to keep the ring taunt, yet not so tight that the skin causes the wooden frame to bow?

These are the skills of 10,000 hours, as described in Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. The Journey Oracle divination cards have aspects in readings that also cannot be taught. And yet how would this be otherwise? When I used Dr. David R. Hawkins’s technique for calibrating the energy level of the Journey Oracle, the combined cards, stories and hand-made presentation registered 970…on a scale whose top end is 1000.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

My song to Sacred Datura

What I call my Datura plant is actually a Brugmansia, but by any name she is sacred. Several years ago I went outside during a mid-summer morning to see that a tiny new plant, recently pushed up through the soil and growing about six inches from the mother plant’s stem, had been cut down by a slug. During the rest of the season I could often be found fussing over the slow recovery of that child plant. Here in the Canadian northwest such a tropical cannot last the winter outside, and so the mature plant and still frail baby joined in a large pot inside the house.

The following spring I planted both outside again and soon after received a dream. A regal woman, dressed with dramatic tropical flare and shouldering a parrot, appeared with a child. Although she was too impatient to wait through my fumbling attempts to fix her a cup of tea, she said she would help me because I had saved her daughter.

Last November I became aware of a serious distortion in my energy due to a childhood trauma in my family, and went to Datura. However, before she would come I needed to give her a song. This song was found in the way described in the Journey Oracle divination story Buying a Song. The 23 stanzas of three lines each took 10 months to compose and had to be sung each day because of course I could not write down and therefore dishonor such a sacred gift. The work with Datura was completed on my 61st birthday and my singing of the song for her during the ceremony felt appropriate, but less potent than I had imagined.

On May 1st when I planted outside the Datura and her child, I found myself singing the song again. When I finished I realized that the song itself, not the singing, was the gift. I never sang the song again. The words and even the tune are gone now, into the ground that nourishes my sacred helper. Both plants bloomed lavishly during this summer, and to my surprise, I noticed yesterday that both are covered again with blossom pods.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

travel as a shamanic journey

This week I am in Edmonton, working with my shamanic mentoring students, and women from the Journey Oracle card party. My experience arriving here became a shamanic journey filled with interesting lessons and powerful insights. My car broke down during the first leg of the trip, and yet through the kindness of five strangers, I was able to make all my connections--arriving relaxed and on time.

I translated the events in the journey into this list of suggestions for transforming breaking down into breaking through.
See that there is a problem
Receive a sense of capability for dealing with it from another’s appraisal
When serious trouble happens STOP in the best place to receive help
Find the open door within which help is available
Receive guidance and recognition of capability, then wait without expectations
When help arrives move to a safe place
When there is no obvious next step go to the next possibility of help
Feel welcome--allow another’s greater capacity to take over
Say YES to an unexpected solution
Discover a new way of going

After I arrived I drew a Journey Oracle divination card, asking the Oracle, “What did I learn from this situation?” I drew this card, and smiled at the image of this little bird, comfortably riding on the head of this strange magical creature. I felt like that bird, being carried by magical kindness in a flow of comfort and ease. All our life’s situations can become spirit journey work, when we are willing to let breaking down become breaking through.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Finding rain magic

We here in the Canadian northwest are in need of some serious rain magic. Withies of drooping brackets hang from the cedar trees, the depleted leaves of the maples form tents as they rustle in the constant afternoon wind. Each intake of hot air and fine dust feels more arid as my gaze turns repeatedly toward the blue-white August sky. It becomes each day more difficult to remember that once the garden pond looked like this.
And yet as a white person of European descent, I understand that drought is, as Laurens van der Post writes in The Voice of the Thunder, “a fear no European can know or understand, because it is a compound of horror, dread and hopelessness which is more of the blood than the mind, for those…born of Africa.”

Certainly the Oracle of Delphi, the Dodona Oracle in Greece, and the Ammon Oracle in Libya were asked to bring their divination art to the predicting of rain. What spirit-directed divination story will the Journey Oracle tell about how and when the rains will come? How will we interpret these messages and find revelation? What training of shamanic vision will call into dreams for a way to call the rain?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Answering life questions

How do we find personal power? I have been giving psychic readings with the Journey Oracle card deck, recently to a dwindling clientele. When I drew a card to ask what was happening, I received this one, and was struck by the question: “Am I trying to sing along?”

In this situation, I understand this to mean that I am trying to do what everyone else is doing, trying to fit in. I don’t want to fit in. I want to honor the unique perspective of this spirit-directed tool. I’m sure I could use this divination art to find revelation for my clients in a way that matches the tarot and other painted divination cards, but I would rather transform their daily life and self-knowledge by applying the uniquely shamanic, Celtic and Wiccan meanings of these divination cards and dream stories.

The Oracle speaks of this card with the phrase: The power needed to create change will be power. I think power shows itself in the physical sensations of our body in daily action, more than in the vast reflections and anticipations of our thinking mind. One of my favorite writers, David Abram, says in The Spell of the Sensuous, “I remain standing on this hill under rippled clouds, my skin tingling with sensations. The expansiveness of the present holds my body enthralled. My animal senses are all awake—my ears attuned to a multiplicity of minute sounds, the tiny hairs on my face registering every lull and shift in the breeze. I am embedded in this open moment, my muscles stretching and bending with the grass. This present seems endless, inexhaustible. What, then, has become of the past and the future?” I understand that the personal power needed to create change is “embedded in this open moment.” I will be in my senses, awake, and the clients who seek teachings by nature spirits for life questions will find me.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Receiving a psychic reading

Sometimes when we are in a dilemma, someone else can see our story better than we can. Close your eyes, breathe deeply a few times, and think of a situation in which your choices and possible actions are tangled and difficult to see clearly.

You have just drawn this Journey Oracle card for your psychic reading, and this how I describe your situation. I see a face with two different eyes…the right one, which means to me the eye seeing in this ordinary reality, is rimmed with red. The left one, which means to me the one seeing in the spirit world, is a clear deep blue. The right eye has water pouring above and beside it, flowing along and over several ear shapes. The face and along the large right ear in the background is rimmed with white, as if frosted and cold. What is surrounding this face is out of focus—shapes that flow and change without apparent structure or meaning. The face and ears are a bright red-orange under the white, as if this were the more basic color. What aspects of your situation am I describing?

I ask you to think of your situation and see if these questions have meaning. Is the eye of this reality rimmed with red from crying? Yet can you also see clearly into the spirit world surrounding this situation? Is the water pouring on the right your feelings, your tears? Is this because of what you are hearing? Is this situation keeping your natural brightness and passion covered over with frost? Or is this a result of your coldness? What is surrounding you that is out of focus?

I conclude this divination reading by asking you the question that appears on the card you have drawn. Say aloud to yourself: “Do I realize who I am?” Is it now time to apply the life wisdom gained from this divination card reading?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A critical divination reading

I recently conducted a divination reading that was more about how we see than about what we are seeing. A young woman drew this card in this orientation.

I told her that she was welcome to reposition the card and as she rotated the image she suddenly caught her breath at the power of this orientation.

The woman said the calm aspect and inward turning eye of the face lying horizontal was what she was seeking in her presently stormy relationship, and the intense glare of the face seen vertically was her more usual response to the thunder often heard in her home situation. The “wrong turn” became advice whose understanding was clarified in the literal turning of the card.

How we see the events and relationships in our lives has everything to do with what we name our experiences, and how we participate with them. Is there a situation in your life right now to which these two orientations apply? Describe what you see in each face to discover which orientation is the wrong turn for you.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Beginning a spiritual practice

This week when I gave divination readings with my Journey Oracle deck at the Friday Market on Cortes Island, and asked my second client for a question to begin the session, she said, “How do I begin a spiritual practice?” We talked about the lines of stress she saw in this card, and the eyes that were watching her from what might be a plant form, and about what the phrase enter at your own risk might mean.

When I returned home I remembered that some years ago I wanted to build a fountain in my garden. I thought lots about this, planning where it might go and how to begin. Nothing really happened until one day I told a friend about my intentions. The very next morning he arrived with a pick ax and said, “Show me where to start.” While I stood there struck dumb, he swung a mighty arc, thudded into soil, and said, “This looks like a good place.” Four years later, filled with many lessons about stones and water, the process of making the fountain arrived at its completion, which became the next beginning: the process of becoming the fountain.

I realized that for me the experience of building the fountain gave good answers to what was seen in the card. The stress felt about being in relationship with spirit is often in our head, dispersed like the sun melting through fog when we take a first action. The sensation that spirit is watching us from within every more-than-human form means that we can make that first gesture of spiritual attention toward anything and everything. The risk is that we do not know where the process will take us, or how we will be transformed by becoming the practice we begin. What I do know is that to begin, we have to act.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Learning from inner wisdom

How do we ever know the truth about ourselves, and what is next coming to be the mirror? I drew this card when I asked “Who is my next teacher?”

I see an old woman in a long skirt and high collar. She looks old fashioned and a bit plump—like someone else’s grandmother. She is looking up with red-rimmed eyes and an open mouth. The word for me that fits her expression is beseeching. She is holding what appears to me to be a snake whose body makes a large circle, or maybe makes a drum. Immediately I think this figure is me. Many times over the years my spirit guides and dreams have named me “Old Woman.” And many times I have asked to be shown what is my next step. It is the snake that especially calls to me. When I drummed a shamanic journey to the Oracle of my Journey Oracle card deck, I met the Cobra.

This card asks “Do I want to go home?” This is a hard question for me. I know home is supposed to be nurturing and welcoming: sometimes it is but often it isn’t. I think we hope teachers are going to be supportive and helpful; maybe they are but often they are not. Sometimes my most deeply altering lessons come to me from the teachers named Grief and Struggle, Perseverance and Patience. The Journey Oracle is this kind of teacher. An old woman who looks like me—and also looks like the magical Other.

Who is your next teacher? Will you seek her or him in places that feel like home, or in those landscapes that you cannot gain by grace, but can earn through hard work?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Interpreting spiritual cards

Although the Journey Oracle creates a journey into our life’s decisions and situations using symbols and analogies, we still must decide what the specific connections between the card images and our situation mean to us. Imagine you ask the Oracle to show what you need to know to bring a project or skill out into the world, and you draw this card.

You might first see a bear’s head in vibrant turquoise, or notice the three feather shapes that seem to float on the surface of the picture. As you look closer you see many other eyes, but the faces they belong to are obscured by flowing purple shapes. In order to understand these images as symbols or analogies you must find similarities between these visual qualities and your situation.

What in your project or skill has the strength and power of a bear? Or does this animal refer to something to know when you market your work? How do you decide? Perhaps the turquoise is a hint since this color is very changeable. It shifts from green to blue depending on other colors next to it. This animal face is also beneath the 3 feathers, as if it were submerged. Are these qualities of being powerful yet changeable, shifting, and submerged a better symbol of your project or skill, or of a strategy for bringing your work to the attention of others?

As you find more similarities between other colors, shapes and images in the picture, and the situation you are asking about, earlier questions resolve themselves. If the feathers are three ways that your work is seen on the surface (that is, out in the world), then the bear may indeed be a symbol of the project or skill beneath this strategy. And what marketing strategy would be like three green-edged feathers? Whose eyes are seeing you, and what does purple mean in your situation?

Each time you invest time and attention in finding the truth that is uniquely yours, the insights from your reading become more powerfully and authentically useful.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Creating a life reading

When I do a life reading with the Journey Oracle divination deck, I let the cards choose the question for me.  I look slowly through the cards, not focusing on the writing, until one of the images holds my attention.  Imagine this image has chosen you.

First look deeply into the image and ask yourself: What situation in my life right now looks like this picture?  Notice the colors and their shapes, the opening into water created by the three stones, the snake moving downward to the right.  What do the spiraling brown, gold and yellow colors mean to you?  Water is a life-sustaining essential.  What does it represent at the center of this spiraling journey?  What in your life right now is going toward water? Are there three stones in your life right now?  Maybe these are large projects, or kinds of support you can stand on, or perhaps obstacles in the way of your ability to reach what is essential. Remember what you answered to the first question to help you understand the meaning of the stones in this spiritual reading.

Snakes come out of their winter nests to warm in the sunshine of early summer during this time of year. Snakes are often associated with transformation—with shedding what is no longer a good fit.  These creatures also have a long history as companions to the Oracle in her guise as a Snake Goddess. What message is the snake bringing to you in its downward movement?  The snake is touching only two of the three stones.  Does this mean that two of the three projects, or supports, or obstacles are in a time of transformation? Take a moment to summarize the life situation represented in the picture, and what you have learned from the card image.

Questions received as answers create a profound shift in our awareness. We might be ready for a statement that will help us move further along the path we are already taking, and then we suddenly hear a question.  This causes something completely unexpected to enter our perspective. Imagine you have just summarized what you learned, and I said back to you, “Are you letting nature take its course?”

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

My Shamanic Painting

I do not easily visualize images in my mind.  I make my art in order to see this world with the veils removed. I make my art in order to see that world beyond the veils. I ask my work to teach me, knowing that nothing is only what it seems but also something else.

One of my oldest guides is this piece of writing that came to me in 1972 during a lecture about the book Pattern Language, by Christopher Alexander. As I was walking to the front of the classroom to meet the speaker, I stopped and scribbled these words:

 In a painting of life and light, you paint to be alive.

Every part, and every part between the part, is whole.

And you are artist enough to call forth its riches.

For you there will be no past indifferent moment,

there will be no forgotten place.

 I have remembered these phrases across the years of my art making.  They remain the ground upon which my choices for painting are made.  The titles of my pieces are lessons for me.  Usually a title finds me before I find the painted image to which it belongs, and so I must hunt in this world for the picture to understand the words of that world.

 I give art lessons and shamanic mentoring to small groups and individuals, teaching that the world answers back. You can’t see them unless you expect to.  You put your mind in a certain state—confident and relaxed at the same time. This takes long practice.  You have to work.  Did you think you could snap your fingers, and have it as a gift?  What is worth having is worth working for.

 

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

An Oracle Card Workshop

Wow! I just returned from Edmonton, Alberta where I and nine women went on a powerful journey with the Oracle.  We began by asking a group question so each of us could receive both individual as well as collective guidance: How is the Journey Oracle coming to help me?   Each woman drew a card and described what she saw in the picture, and what she understood of its phrase or question. This was followed by the rest of us each describing that card as if it was our own.  In this way we each collected nine additional comments about our card, and so enriched our connections and insights with it, as well as gained experience with the deck by reading a total of ten cards!

The big experience was during day two when I drummed a trance journey so each woman could travel into the alternative realities to visit her personal Oracle.  My first experience with journeywork was in 1984 with a woman who had trained with Michael Harner.  Since I also began making drums at that time, I have spent years helping others travel on vibration into other realms.  Some women went under the ocean; others rode swirling smoke into the sky.  Several crossed wide meadows to arrive at distant temples, while some dove into fire or the earth itself.  Some women were greeted by human figures; others were met by animals, birds or sea creatures.  Before returning, each woman asked her Oracle: “What do you eat?”

 Once back in this reality, we helped each other translate the process of finding and meeting the Oracle into an individual procedure for laying out and reading the cards. Some women discovered they were to read only one side of several cards and then draw a story not belonging to any of these.  Others were shown to name cards as part of a journey, such as “Where I am now,” and “where I am going.”  One woman was given a circular layout that involved 10 cards!  We finished our workshop by translating the food each Oracle ate into something we could bring as an offering each time we went to the Oracle.  We understood our gifts of water, sweet smoke, dance and song, drawings to be eaten by fire and poems to spin in the wind--would carry our requests into the realms of spirit. What a joy it was to learn how to give food to the Oracle, as well as to receive it.

 Let me help you discover the unique presence of your own Oracle during a workshop gathering with your friends, and together we will ride a good horse into the spiritworld with our hands full of gifts.  

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Being a drum maker

The drum is art-full; an object whose beauty is a reflection of the goodness of fit of every part, and every part between the parts. In my understanding the wood, skin, pigments, stones and embellishments are seen as beautiful because they have spiritual significance.  We apprehend that something is going on in the subtlety of the design, in the pattern and number of thongs, in the choices of construction, besides the design and number and pattern.  It is this opening into Mystery that touches us; that we name as "beautiful."

 I have drawn from many sacred stories when learning to make my drums, especially those telling of the women's drumming traditions in old European Goddess cultures. My experience watching Layne Redmond play and teach frame drumming led me into a slow process of detective work to re-member from the ashes of white history, the legacy of women as drum makers and players.

 The paintings on my drums come from gazing, while in a light trance, at the surface of the drum until creatures and beings appear.   I understand as I paint that I am bringing their images from another reality into this one. My skill is in being true to the appearance they show me, and not to my 'artistic' training.

 I totally know there is a spirit of the drum.  This is not a belief for me; in the sense that a belief is something I can only trust to be so.  I can feel and especially hear each drum's living voice.  From my earliest experiences with them drums have been living beings to me.

 

  

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Dream interpretation

Let’s imagine that you have just woken up from this dream image, and then you remember the rest of the story.

 You see that when the tide begins to recede the surface of the water flattens slightly, as if the earth were holding these messages of coming loss close to her heart.   Forms become distinct first as watery hummocks and then as shells and stones spangled with liquid shimmer.  Periwinkles and crabs trail lines of wanderlust in the slowly drying sand.  In high summer you feel like the beach becomes abandoned to torture by a sun that is no longer a guardian in this place.  In the raking light of a moon bright night in deepest winter the whole surface of the beach is moving.  The tiniest of creatures have their power sparkling like the largest, glittering with a longing of memory for the water that had been there before, but now is gone.

 You see that when the tide begins to turn there is a swelling along the leading edge, as if the water has grown plump with waiting.  In the sullen heat of a golden-edged afternoon, the returning water hisses slightly as it bubbles around pebbles and fills up the depressions that are the front doors to the hideouts of ghost shrimp and clams.  What was a mottled grey strip of sand suddenly becomes a sculpin, flashing out to meet the flowing in tide.  Starfish clinging in the shadowed underside of beach rocks seem to soften their grip slightly when the water meets their pitted purple skins, as if the rising tide were a signal to let go a little—in a life whose main skill is holding on.  Only when the tide is several inches deep will the barnacles venture out with their feathered arms beckoning, only when the certainty of deep water arrives will the oysters open their frilly edged homes to greet what is coming to be the break in their fast.  

You see that no creature on the beach expects delays; waiting for the tide to turn is not empty hoping, but inner certainty.

 If this were your dream, in what part of your life right now is the tide receding, in what part is the tide turning?  What part of you are the sculpin and starfish, and why is your last image one of returning salmon?

 When writing the stories of the Journey Oracle divination cards, I asked dreams to help me interpret their spirit messages.  I found hidden teachings in their shamanic journeys, and learned through the books of Jeremy Taylor how to understand dream language.

 

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Extend insight with a new reading

Last week I helped you create a reading for an immediate answer to a life question.  This post continues that reading using the other side of the card. If you are visiting the Oracle for the first time, enjoy doing the reading described in the post of May 20 before continuing.

 Here is the question side of your card.  Its orientation has come up the way it needs to. Before you work with this new image, think again about your situation and the insights you have already received.  Did another question occur to you at the completion of your first reading? Perhaps you wanted to know how to solve the problem, or shift your perspective, or maybe what action to take next?  Ask this second question now.

 Now read the card question—and look deeply into the card image.  This image shows you how to understand this question. Describe what you see in the card image using simple language.  Describe images, colors, shapes, and also what you feel and associate with them.  See the answer to your question in this description, and apply this to your situation.  

 Remember that one or more of the following themes are a major influence in this situation: hope, light, perspective, time.  How does the answer to your question deepen when you put your situation into the container made by these themes?  And what does the container itself look like in the story of your life right now?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Create a journey card reading now

Think of a situation that is confounding you; whose possible paths of choice and action are tangled and difficult to see. Perhaps it is occurring to you as you read this. Here is the card you have drawn for your journey to the Oracle about this situation. The card’s orientation has come up the way it needs to. See first the card phrase—then look deeply into the card image. This image shows you how to understand this phrase. Describe what you see in the card image using simple language. Describe images, colors, shapes, and also what you feel and associate with them. Now see your situation in this description, and apply the phrase to the story you are telling yourself about your situation. How is this image, and phrase, an answer to your question?

Deepen your understanding of your revelation by noticing the color of the card’s rim. This shows the card is part of the Wiccan wheel of the year suit in the Journey Oracle divination deck, so one or more of the following themes are a major influence in your situation: hope, light, perspective, time. This card represents the seasonal energy of Samhain, or Hallowe'en, on October 31. What feelings or associations do you have with this time of the year? How do these additional layers extend the meaning of the insight you have received about your situation?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Find life purpose

Recently a friend said decisions were flowing well for her; a new career possibility was in view, and lots of good energy was surrounding it. I wondered if these subtle energy cues are the way we find life purpose. I asked the Oracle about how to best find life purpose and this card of the Moon from the Journey Oracle deck came forward. This is one of the divination cards for self-knowledge in the Journey suit, named for our life's journey to access our own deep wisdom.

I see plant forms flowing upward from purple depths towards soft yellow. I am aware that these two hues are color opposites: the two primaries of red and blue that mix to make purple do not use the third primary of yellow. Therefore when our eye sees one of the set, it yearns for the color not used. Our eye wants this color complement to be present; it wants what is whole to be visible. We yearn for our life purpose to be visible, in order to feel whole.

Intense blue flowers grow from twiggy stems, or perhaps these are already gone from the life force; their papery edges seem without vitality. The upward rushing color is hatched on either side with ragged black, as if a web has given way in the force of this movement.

Finding life purpose is a balancing of opposites. Even though the Journey Oracle art images are complex and many-layered, it seems that the insights from reading oracle cards are often quick and simple. When I look carefully at the card image, and read again what I have chosen to describe, these questions come into the hollow space made by my seeking. Am I making space for what is whole? Is there something in my present life purpose,that once had vitality, now feeling lifeless? Has a new energy force broken through, reaching now for a new light?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A Journey in Strange Territory #2

This continues the story of the second blue marble and of my journey into the strange territory of the Mayan calendar. It took me four months to go receive what I knew to be a second Sastun. Fear of future grief mixing with present elation created a swirl of shifting feelings. “What color? What size? What do I do? What do I know?” When finally I held the gossamer pouch within which the Sastun nested in copal, I saw with amazement that although it was countries and years away from the first one, this marble was the same size and color, with little twinkles of turquoise light moving on its surface.

During the time of the first blue marble, I began receiving songs in sounds that had no apparent connection to human language, yet had their own internal logic and order. This receiving happened very slowly, and I treated their remembering more like a game than a lesson. A psychic mentioned a most important object I had; something with a blue cover. This was the little notebook where I wrote down this vocabulary, and so I gave this study priority.

I struggled to accept the Sastun teaching me, and to stop believing I was in charge. I spent six years of thinking I had been shown a clue, following its scent with hopeful action, only to find the surface of the marble growing dim and vacant before my efforts. Something liquid, a candle nearby, songs of greeting, the strange language, different systems for ‘reading’ the lights: all shifted and transformed, became deleted and reconnected. A few clients would indicate an interest in a session, and I would enthusiastically gallop in my most current direction, believing their request was confirmation of right action, only to discover patterns of light that didn’t fit my system, and messages I couldn’t translate.

The juxtaposition of a children’s book and writings about time in Mayan reality created a breakthrough. In The Golden Compass, by Philip Pullman, Lyra understood images on the compass rim by seeing a three dimensional ladder of possibilities from which she was able to intuitively select the correct meanings. At the same time I was studying the Mayan deities of the days, months, years, and other time measurements, because of this Sastun’s origin in Guatemala. I came to understand that every moment is a manifestation of forces, however favorable or adverse, that are always divine. Are the lights the arrivals and departures of divine forces within the many kinds of time that govern all existence? Is the Sastun a three-dimensional world of Time? Is recognizing the gods of day and night in a situation a way of describing the forces moving within that situation?

Another doorway opened when I discovered a Mayan poem in Shaking the Pumpkin, edited by Jerome Rothenberg, in which a man describes going to a wizard who reads a Saastun before giving advice. Now I understand that the liquid is liquor given with the candle as payment; the strange language is my gift of effort to the gods who move in five kinds of time, and that the lights are, at least, the faces and locations of these gods, and certainly much more. As I continue to investigate I am beginning to ask, “Why is this coming to me?” Probably not to satisfy my ego that likes to imagine lines of clients holding pints of whisky and candles. Maybe so I can share that the simplest of things—a blue marble—is awake. And perhaps it is we who are not.