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Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Masks

It was a wild weekend in my part of the world.  We had high winds, lots of rain and flooding. Today didn't really feel like Halloween.  I'm not sure what Halloween really feels like, but it does have a feel of some kind I think. 

But instead, at least for me, today felt like an ending of some kind.  I guess that's appropriate for the last day of October and maybe more so, for the end of a storm. I spent the better part of the morning cutting a tree that had fallen onto the fence line.  (If anyone ever needs a testimonial for electrobraid fencing- email me- the stuff is magical). It felt pretty calm and serene after all the howling winds. But it felt like the end of a season maybe.  The sun was shinning, but the temperature is much different. Any fall leaves that were hanging on have "given up the ghost" in honor of Halloween I guess.  It does feel like the end of the harvest.

Unlike other parts of the country that I have lived, in this area, people really decorate the outside of their houses for Halloween.  But after 100km hour plus winds, and driving rains, that's kind of the end of that. So to me, it was feeling as though Halloween was even done.  There had been lots of parties and celebrations over the weekend so Halloween on a Monday felt like like a non-event.

I was tired, maybe a little grumpy, and definitely distracted, when I went to do some errands.  I had totally forgot about it being Halloween.  So I was a bit "taken aback" when I saw a woman wearing something that my grandmother would have said was  "quite the get-up".  It wasn't until she was long out of my sight that I remembered it was Halloween!  Ahh.., not a "get-up"- a costume. Hmm....

Maybe that's the fun of Halloween.  We get to put on a mask and pretend we are someone we aren't, or we don't think we are, or we aren't sure if we want to be or not.  We get to try out a costume in an accepting environment.  I have come to accept that teenage girls for instance view Halloween as a chance to wear lots and lots of make-up, some pretty clingy pieces of fabric, high heels and a few other accessories that give a bit of a new meaning to "trick or treat".  I think this is part of the "trying the mask on" phase.

Some people are lucky enough to find a friend that is willing to be part of a costume duo.  That makes the trying out phase even more comfortable. It's rare to find a friend that is willing to do this.  A friend of mine in University days, one year spent valuable studying time sewing Raggedy Ann and Andy costumes.  They were darling and very much suited her personality, quite a sewing feat and a work of art.  She was sure her "out of town" boyfriend would play the role of Andy when he came for the party. Perhaps not so surprisingly, he didn't want to play "Andy".  They tried to compromise.  He suggested make-up that was a bit on the lines of KISS (the rock group if you're not from that era).  The make-up leaked on the outfits, the tears became real not drawn on, and the relationship came to a crash that weekend, never to be revived. Hmmm...

Some people wear those rubber masks that look just a little bit too real.  It's hard to tell where the rubber ends and the face begins.  They are just plain spooky- I guess that's the point.

Sometimes you're just not sure on Halloween whether a person is wearing a costume of if that's their real "get-up".  You can't ask.  It's kind of like not being sure if someone is pregnant or not.  If you don't ask or comment they might think you quite rude. On the other hand, if they aren't pregnant, or aren't wearing a costume, you're going to have a tough time fixing up that conversation.

The thing that is important is whether or not you know if you're wearing a mask.  If you're not sure about that, or you're hiding behind your mask, you might want to consider some drops of the Bach Flower essence Agrimony. We all hide behind the mask sometimes.  Agrimony can help you choose when to put it on and when you're okay to just be "out there", in your very own "get-up" for all the world to see.

If you need some help to be Raggedy Ann all on your own without an Andy, you might consider the use of Cerato, Chicory, Vervain or Vine.  Or use some Rock Water and flex a bit with the modified make-up idea.

There are lots of Bach Flower's that might be helpful around Halloween time.  I talked about Aspen last year. Aspen can still apply. But, it feels to me, that the weekend storm was enough to drive any evil lurking spirits away. I guess there are still some treats to be disbursed and collected, but I think we've moved on to another phase in the journey. And for that, I'm going to take off the mask, life my face to the sky and howl at the moon.

The End.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Waiting for Your Ship to Come In

Like everyone in my part of the world, I grew up in a somewhat nautical culture where a lot of poplar phrases and superstitions were linked to the sea. I often heard references to "your ship coming in"  People would say someone was "still waiting for his ship to come".  In the last week or so, this area received a huge economic boost when a major ship building contract was awarded to the city port.  The headlines read, "Our ship has come in". All things nautical are again popular as everyone is well, "on board".

It turns out that phrase has it roots back in the days where merchant sailing ships were first becoming popular. A few big risk takers would put everything they had, and some borrowed resources, into building a great ship. After years of the building process, they would equip it with the best crew they could find and enough supplies that they would survive an undetermined time at sea.  Then they "let go".  They sent their ship and crew off to find riches. And they waited.

The thing is they had no communication devices back then.  (Again, with the technology  Not a thing.  Not land to sea radios, no cell phones, not even real navigational devices.  So once your ship was out of the harbour you had no idea what was happening to it.  There was no hurricane or storm warning system and even if you did know a storm was coming you had no way to communication that to your ship. No communication. No control.

For all you knew, you ship had sank a few miles off the coast, negotiating what was often the worst part of the journey. All you could do was keep scanning the coastline and "wait for your ship to come in".  Imagine the day when you looked up and saw your ship coming in to harbour.  It would be riding low in the water because of all the treasure and trading goods it had piled on there to sell, and make you rich.  It might be spices, it might be tea, foreign treasures, who knew- but it was sweat reward for your waiting.  The sails might be ripped and battered, some of the crew lost, but you were set for at least ten years as a wealthy person if the treasure was worthwhile at all. 

Not everyone can be a ship builder. You need a lot of confidence to do that kind of thing. You might need a few drops of the Bach Flower essence Larch during the ship building process. Imagine how many people would try to rip apart your dream and self-esteem.  I mean, what do you know about ship building anyway.  Maybe you should just grow potatoes and make an honest meager living like your  brothers- all ten of them!

Not everyone has the courage to be a ship builder. You might need a lot of Mimulus Bach Flower drops for that kind of thing. Imagine the fear you would feel as you watched that ship and all your hopes and dreams head out to sea.  Every time a gale blew through you'd be fearful that it was far worse out at sea and you ship and crew wasn't surviving. You wouldn't be the only one needing that Mimulus.  There's a good reason why the houses in coastal towns have a balcony built that faces the sea. It's called the "widow's walk".  So you wouldn't be the only one awake at night fearful of ship wrecks. On those really stormy nights when you or those wives woke up from a shipwreck nightmare in a cold sweat, you'd really want a bottle of Rock Rose by your bed.

Not everyone would have the patience to be a ship builder. Imagine the wait for that ship to come in. You could imagine all the things your riches would buy, the easy life you might live if only your ship would hurry up and come in.  Imagine the "great deals" you would have to pass up because your ship wasn't in yet.  You might need a lot of drops of Impatiens to keep you balanced in the wait. You wouldn't get any updates. Not one. No communication. Any day could "be the day", and each day that wasn't you might be getting more irritated and frustrated.

Not everyone is meant to be a ship builder. You have to have a deep inner knowing, a calling to take that kind of risk and feel guided to follow it through.  When you were tempted to ask everyone you if they had seen your ship on the horizon, if they had any idea when it might come, you'd need some drops of Cerato. After all, you got into this business because you knew it was right for you, Cerato could help you trust that inner wisdom. Cerato would help you really believe it when you told those wives you knew the ship would be coming "any day now".

The phrase has endured even though the days of merchant sailing ships with no communication on board have long faded into the past. Perhaps because some people still build ships, the phrase still applies.  If you're a writer, you ship might be  manuscript.  If you're an artist, you ship might be a sculpture or a painting. If you're a teacher, your ship might be that student that you patiently helped through some rough spots.  If you're a parent, your ship might be your children that have set sail for unknown waters.

As a ship builder, you don't always know what kind of treasures will be on your ship when it returns.  It might be spices, it might be tea, it might be gold. You might be able to turn it into gold. It might be something you have never even anticipated, something foreign that you could never have imagined.

It doesn't really help to keep scanning the horizon.  Once you launch that ship it's out of your control.  It's out of the range of communication.  You have to move on and go about your daily life secure in the faith that "Your ship will come in" and the rewards will be great!  Here's to safe sailing and gentle breezes. You never know when that day may be.  Maybe today is the day your ship comes in!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Mindful Use vs. Shutting Down

I was considering what I wanted to write about today when I received an email.  I'm not sure exactly how it ended up in my inbox but it got me thinking....

The summary of the email is that the Occupy Movement is planning to use October 28th as a "Shut The System Down" day.  The email instructed me to join this movement by turning off my lights and all electrical devices, not using Internet, radio, or phone, not purchasing anything, cancelling any services I don't need, and calling in sick to work. All this  for a 24 hour period.  It was suggested I should do nothing that generates money into "the system". I was told to read a book, meditate, play, sing, dance, create, or frolic in nature. I was told to "step out of the system and get back to myself".  See, I have a problem with that.

I'm kind of disappointed in this latest turn of events.  To me, it sounds like going against something, picking a side, deciding there is a right and a wrong. But then again I don't like to be "told" to do anything.  I like to be "the boss of me".  Personally, there are parts of "the system" I very much appreciate and like to have around me.  I enjoy turning the lights on, connecting with people and information over the Internet and I like my work.  I enjoy money (when I have it!) and I like to spread it around! I do agree it makes sense to cancel any services I don't need.  Considering Lunar Sambain, this would be a good time to reassess that and maybe I would find more money to spread around in ways I want to!

I also like to take time to read a book.  I find that easier when I can turn the lights on and see the pages, otherwise I would be forced to read in daylight hours only. Having tried to read with a flashlight under the covers, I find that's a fun activity, but it's hard on aging eyes! I don't sing well at all- so I prefer to enjoy someone else's music when I feel the need for music.  I don't have the radio on in the car anymore and I enjoy that time to think instead. That works for me. I love to create.  I can create much better when I can type the words into my computer- I'm faster at typing than writing and it just works for me. I have more opportunity to "frolic in nature" and enjoy time with friends because I have a portable device that lets me know if I need to respond to a work event. It means I can spend time doing something fun instead of spinning my wheels occupying space at my work desk waiting for a phone call or an email or both. That just works for me.

I didn't always want the constant connection and I rebelled against cell phones and definitely against texting. I thought they were rude and intrusive, bad for your mental health and your ability to "in the world".  And then I heard a psychologist speak at a conference.  She was a busy working mother, well known in her field, doing some ground breaking stuff in the area of teen violence, particularly school shootings. She explained how while researching that very topic, she got a text from her teenage son.  He was in a lock -down situation at his school. There was a shooter in the hallway. They used text messaging to connect with each other and she gave instructions to him and the friends around him as well.  She "virtually counselled" and told her son how she loved him.  She was "with him" during that event in a way she never could have been before. There wasn't a dry eye in the place when she was done talking.  Her son and his friends were okay by the way.

See.. I don't want to "shut down that system".  I want that kind of connection because knowing that possibility exists gives me peace and comfort and helps alleviate a lot of worry I might otherwise carry around with me. I'll gladly trade the weight and distraction  of technology for the weight and distraction  of worry.  But that's just me.

For me there is a middle ground.  I want to be able to pick and choose my middle ground.  Therefore I appreciate what the "system" has to offer and understand I can use it as I pick and choose.  I do understand falling into the trap of trying to do more because you can.  That's the washing machine syndrome Some times it pays to step back from a fast paced world and settle into yourself.  The thing is, October 28th may not be the day I choose to do that! 

This whole idea of shut down seems to me to be a "Vervain" idea.  Vervain is a Bach Flower essence that is helpful for "over-enthusiasm". People that respond well to Vervain are determined, strong-willed, and sensitive to injustice. They can change the world, of that there is no doubt.  But sometimes they need a bit of balance. They can sometimes become rather fanatical so they alienate potential allies and converts.  A few drops of Vervain can help balance the over-enthusiastic so that you don't impose your views on others. Hmm..

In my opinion it's all about balance and balance is an individual attribute. Cerato is a Bach Flower essence that helps you trust yourself.  Inside we all have that inner knowing that directs us. We just need to listen to that voice. It is about listening, not necessarily speaking.  If you feel it's right for you to shut everything down, then  that's right for you, and the right choice to make.  If you feel it's right for you to be "tuned in" that's right for you and the right choice to make.  It's not about flowing to one side or the other just because there is a movement to do so.  It's not about being "for" or "against" . It is about "being" what is right for you.

In my opinion, the "system" can be draining.  People put in long hours at work and find it hard to stop working because of constant connections and instant requirements. The "system" can also be liberating.  People put in long hours when they washed clothes by hand.  It took much longer to write a report or a letter when you did so with pen and ink and mailed it or had it hand delivered by pony express. Life can be easier when you embrace technology and it can be more peaceful when you shut technology off. The balance is in the middle and with individual choice.

Here's the thing.  In order to "call in sick" on October 28th, I think you are going to have to use the phone or connect via the Internet and send an email.  You can just not show up for work and that might work for you too. You and you alone, get to make the decision.  You and you alone, live with the consequences.  So tomorrow I'm going to be mindful about how I use "the system".  I'm going to think about what really feels right for me to do and what I might be doing just because I'm following the herd. I'm going to use technology and all parts of the system if it makes my life easier.  I'm going to shut off what doesn't feel right. I hope to find a balance in the middle.  But... that's just me...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Ancestral Connections on Lunar Samhain

If you're seeing ghosts today, or feeling just a bit of an unexplained presence around you- it might be because we are creeping up to Halloween.  Or, it might be something else.

According to my We'Moon calender, today is Lunar Samhain.  Lunar Samhain marks the beginning of the Celtic Lunar Year. This is a time when sunlight is absent and the moon is dark because we have just entered a New Moon. On this "darkest of nights" we are encouraged to generate and radiate our light from within.  In this darkness when the light comes from within, there is said to be a thin veil between the worlds allowing us to be close to our ancestors, feeling their influence in our lives.

In Celtic tradition, Samhain was meant to be more sacred than scary. It was a time to honor the old and it's passing in order to make way for the new. This was a time of final harvest when farmers took stock of their herds and grain supplies and made decisions on what had to go so people and livestock could survive the winter. By this time of year meat would freeze and therefore keep and summer grass was gone so free foraging was no longer possible.  A time to make decisions, let go, and move on. Hmm...

The "letting go" part wasn't done lightly.  Decisions were made based on the greater good and once those decisions had been made, the dead were honored and thanked for their sacrifice. So it was a rather "dark time"(especially if you were part of a herd that outweighed the grain supply I suppose!), but it was a darkness for the light and that was what was celebrated.

Later on in history in appears the festival became more of the "festival of the dead" and was a celebration to honor "All Souls" or "All Saints".  Despite when exactly the lunar Samhain occurred, the festival was celebrated on October 31st. It became a Gaelic custom to wear costumes and masks in order to copy or appease the evil spirits that might be lurking around with the good.

This Lunar Samhain occurs with the New Moon in Scorpio. The moon in Scorpio is said to give us an attitude that matches with our primal side.  Sounds like quite an appropriate combination for Lunar Samhain! Under the influence of this moon we don't take much to platitudes, faking it, or "fluff".  Our curiosity to seek the truth is pretty sharp and we really cut to the heart of the matter without fooling around. We dig deep and furious with some intense focus to find the truth.

A New Moon is always a good time to start fresh. But before you do that you have to let go of the old. With the Moon in Scorpio and the decision making powers of the Samhain, it's time to examine what you really need to let go of. Let go of relationships, activities and situations that don't feel good and foster growth.  This is a good time to consider what you might be holding on to just because it has always been with you. If things don't feel light, right, and empower you to be what you want to be,  let them go.

But in the spirit of Samhain you let them go with honor.  You appreciate what those people, events, or situations have contributed to who you are. Create what ever type of festival feels good to you in order to celebrate their past presence and rejoice in the disconnection.

The Celtic culture used bonfires, and the intensity of flames to honor the passing spirits. Perhaps I'm a "fire starter" from a way back because I love a good bonfire, take great satisfaction in my burn barrel and enjoy the process of lighting the wood stove.  However.. with 70km/hour winds out there at the moment, the recently acquired emergency manager in me suggests that might not be the best way to go today!  Perhaps lighting a candle with intention and focus would be a better idea?  The idea of carving a pumpkin and putting a candle in it to ward off the evil spirits and honor  those who have passed on might be a good idea.

During this time of year, perhaps in part because of our focus on the spirit world, or perhaps because of the deep cultural roots in the Samhain festival, it may be easier for spirits to walk among us. Or, we might be more tuned in to their presence. You might just have that feeling that you're not quite alone. I rather appreciate that feeling.  Some really wonderful people in my life, both known and unknown are no longer with me in a physical sense and I appreciate the connection with their spirit. But if you're not having a comforting sense from the spirits around you, you might consider the Bach Flower essence Aspen.

When you're making those honest decisions about what to release from your life, you might benefit from the Bach Flower essence Cerato. It can help you trust yourself and follow your inner knowing.

If your feeling drawn to the past  and having a hard time of letting go, Honeysuckle might be a good Bach flower essence for you right now.

I think there is much we can learn from our ancestors. They seemed to put a lot of ceremony into letting go and moving on.  They didn't hide from the darkness of Lunar Samhain, they celebrated it and used their inner fire to provide protection, strength and light to move forward. I like that idea and I think it's a tradition worth honoring. Enjoy the darkness so you can celebrate the light.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Animal Signs: Blue Jay

A lot of birds that were pretty prominent during the summer are leaving for warmer places it seems. The Hummingbirds that were all over the place this summer, just disappeared one day as quickly as they came. I'm not sure where the robins go, but they don't seem to be making as much of an appearance either. The Heron is still around, but he seems to be less likely to make his appearance known these days as well.  Not so with a couple of blue jays they have become "large and in charge".

These two blue jays have been dive bombing and chattering and putting on quite a show.  Perhaps they are the reason why some of the others left!  This weekend I realized they have built a nest in a tree quite close to the house.  I didn't think it was the time for nest building but then again.... what do I know about nest building! This is quite the house they built, complete with blue ribbon streamers that not only look lovely, but seem very appropriate for a couple of blue jays. They were putting the finishing touches on their house this weekend and being quite vocal about it all, so I realized perhaps I should see what the appearance of a blue jay might mean.

Blue jays (the animal not the baseball team!) symbolize royalty, energy and enthusiasm.  They suggest assertiveness, personal power and multiple abilities. They are can also be seen as encouragement to use your power properly. Hmmm...

That little tuff of feathers on the top of the blue jay's head is said to resemble a crown. The blue jay commands royal attention and doesn't shy away from anything or anyone. They are easily seen and often are very active in the daytime- no sense in hiding those glorious regal colors. They appear in a flamboyance of color and brighten up the event.  People that have the blue jay as a totem animal don't have to call attention to themselves- they already have the worlds attention when they walk into a room.  They just have to figure out how to respond to this attention appropriately.

The blue jay is a pretty talkative bird and can even sometimes mimic other creatures.  They have been known to protect their nests by mimicking hawk calls as a ploy to lure birds of prey away.  The jay is one of the boldest of birds.  They can be "in your face" with a determination that is surprising. As a totem animal they symbolize this assertive, intelligent and determined nature. The blue jay's message is about embracing life to the fullest wherever you land. They encourage you to pursue what you love and command the best for yourself. 

The blue jay is pretty resourceful and makes the best of whatever environment it finds itself in.  Apparently they prefer to make their nests in fir or oak trees, but they will happily use mailboxes, awnings, or in my case a choke cherry tree, and claim it as their own. They certainly used those old blue plastic tarp pieces and turned them into wonderfully strong support beams and flowing ribbons. Using these abilities to "made do and make the best", the blue jay calls the shots in life and in this way lives life to the fullest.

The blue jay is an "air sign"  providing a connection between spiritual powers and universal energies with the earth. With the blue jay as your totem, or in your life, you may be gifted with the ability to access great power and potential if you learn to develop your abilities to their fullest.

All these abilities and that talkative nature however, can cause the blue jay to be a bit of a bully.  Maybe blue jays, just like people, can become a bit unbalanced in their emotions and sway over to a darker side? The blue jay may appear to remind you to use your abilities for personal advancement while still allowing others to live their lives. Mr Jay- if you're listening, I do still need to walk by that tree once in awhile!!!!

Sometimes a blue jay type person might need a bit of the Bach Flower essence Vine. Vine can help when that determination swings over a bit to the domination side. Vine can temper that aggressive, assertive nature somewhat so you can see the good in others and encourage and guide without controlling.  If that sense of royalty is creating a "Queen Bee"  a dose of Vine might be indicated to help channel the power appropriately.

Interestingly, I was working on a children's book this weekend that has to do with bullying. I think I'll consider the blue jays as a sign to keep working on it, especially because, writing really is what I love and therefore, what a blue jay in that situation would keep doing!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Responsibility as a World View: Bach Flower Elm

It's been a busy couple of days in my part of the world.  I've watched some interesting exchanges of power, authority, control, and decision making. The responsibility for outcomes that comes with power and control can be both ego boosting and overwhelming.  It can also, in my opinion, become a world view.

In the emergency management profession, people are taught to take "command and control"- it's actually a course, a system, and a guiding principle. The "incident commander" wears the captain's hat. The incident commander assumes responsibility for the incident. The system can work well if everyone playing agrees to the rules, hands over responsibility, and accepts command from the captain.  Hmm....

It occurs to me that this principle of authority is also the basis for many of the healing professions. The doctor, the healer, or the technician assumes responsibility.  There is often a "hand over" that occurs between patient and healer. Society considers some professions and the people that perform in such capacities as "authority figures".  Teachers usually fall in this category. Parents can be seen as authority figures.  In the domestic animal world, pet owners often consider  themselves to be authority figures for their animals. We assume responsibility for those we feel we lead.
People that often find themselves in this Incident Commander/Authority/Expert role, are often confident in their abilities, have great experience or knowledge, are good at their work, and very capable. The commander is often very aware of his or her life purpose. They are in this position because they passionately believe in their work and have made it their calling. When you believe you have a "calling", a true soul path, or are fulfilling your 'life's work", you often become pretty powerful in that role. Others see your confidence and they recognize you are wearing the captains hat.  They start to hand over more responsibility and you gladly take it on. You feel even more confident you are on the right path.  You become more determined. You enjoy the responsibility. When things go well, you feel successful. It feels powerful to be "in control".  Your ego is fed.  But....

Sometimes we begin to view our world from this position of responsibility. You become driven by your goals, your beliefs, your sense of purpose and the responsibility that goes with it. You start to feel burdened by the responsibility.When you see the world as your responsibility to fix, at some point or another, the load will be too heavy. It can get overwhelming and in that space of "overwhelming overload" you start to feel doubt.  You  feel exhausted. You may lose your confidence.  If you have accepted the responsibility for "saving lives", you will, at some point in your lifetime, have to accept the responsibility for "destroying lives". That can lead to depression, exhaustion and a crash in ego or self-esteem.

This worldview of "responsibility" is a direct match for the Bach Flower essence Elm. On the positive side, Elm is a strong, hardy and upwardly mobile tree. It is confident and secure with a solid base. On the negative side of the balance, Elm is indicated when you feel so overwhelmed by your responsibility that you lose confidence, become depressed, exhausted and full of doubt.  When you start to question whether or not you ever should have taken that hat, become a healer, accepted the parenting role, taken on pets, chosen that career, Elm can help.  

The Bach essence Elm is prepared by the boiling method and is another of those truly transforming essences. Elm types do change the world, and transform lives in positive ways. But sometimes you need to do a "reality check" and put things in perspective. Maybe you have taken on a bit too much responsibility and you need to reassess. Perhaps it's time to share the command.  Maybe you need to let someone else take over, release some of the burden, hand over some of the troops.

It's hard to hand over responsibility.  It can feel like failure. You can get so trapped in taking on more and more that to say "no" feels like you are admitting defeat, showing vulnerability, showing weakness, admitting you can't do it all. Hmm.. Sounds like the ego again.

Taking the Elm essence may help you modify your worldview a bit so that you can recognize when you have taken on too much. It can help you look at your own needs and realize when you need to "let go". All good leaders hand over command at some point. They bring others up to their level so they can assume the lead role. They give up some of the responsibility. That means giving up some of the glory, but it also lessons the burden.

If your captain's hat is starting to give you a headache and you are overwhelmed by the sheer weight of the responsibility, consider a few drops of the Bach Flower essence Elm.  Then you can sit back for a moment and think about your worldview. Consider whether or not you might manage your world with a little less responsibility for outcomes.

Everyone plays the role of incident commander in some aspect of their life but if you've taken this on as your whole life, it might be time to reconsider.  Allow Elm  to rescue the rescuer. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Occupy Movement: New Age Protest?

The Occupy Movement that started out on Wall Street has made it's way to my part of the world- at least to the "big city", where a group of perhaps 100 or so has pitched tents in the down town core and established themselves as part of the Occupy Movement.  Like everyone that isn't involved directly in it, and perhaps some that are, I am trying to make sense of this event.

I realized this attempt to "figure it out", is kind of a Cherry Plum World View  I struggled to find reason, a purpose, a point of control, in what seems to be pretty loose, impulsive action. I have been guilty of all the stereotypes and criticism everyone has put to this movement.; they lack purpose, they aren't really "doing" anything, what's the point, what do they want to achieve. My biggest question was: "How will they measure success "?

I watched a media interview the other day with one of the protesters and gained a new perspective. Not really because of anything the interviewer asked, or  anything the protester explained, but maybe something just clicked a bit for me. I watched how unemotional the protester was. Pretty amazing.  There was no anger there. She wasn't suggesting corporations were bad. She wasn't demanding a job. She wasn't suggesting corporations should fold. She had no demands. She did have a couple of possible ideas including tax changes, and sustainable activities. She didn't seem "flaky" or unsure of herself.  Dispute some pretty tough questions she didn't get rattled or appear embarrassed.  She just "was", and I got the sense that she believed in herself and didn't really care what the audience thought or how people were measuring her. I admire that.

If I understand the movement correctly, they are wanting to raise awareness on the inequality between rich and poor, and they believe that inequality has some roots in big corporate business. They believe "we the people" have lost power to big business and they would like to have power redistributed a bit more.  They don't have the solutions.  They don't claim to have solutions.  They have a number of ideas for change that seem as varied as the people involved in the movement. 

When I really thought about this whole movement, and listened to some of the protesters, I found myself changing my view a bit.  How can I argue with the fact that there is great equality in the world. How can I argue with the fact that corporations are making some pretty big money that sometimes affects the world in negative ways- and sometimes good.  How could anyone argue with the fact that we might be able to make small and big changes to improve the good of us all.  Hmm...

I don't think anyone really knows how to "deal with" these protesters because they aren't asking anyone to take a side.  There is nothing to be argued. They aren't doing anything illegal. It seems to me they are just raising awareness and that actually seems like a good thing. That seems like the direction the world might be shifting towards anyway and they are just addressing the change or perhaps calling attention to it.  They are encouraging you to think- about what you think, is your choice. And if you can come with a good solution for equally distributing power they think that's a good idea and they applaud that.

Some people complain that the group is just a bunch of unemployed young people camping out. From the interviews I have seen, they have been pretty honest about their employment situation.  A lot of them are unemployed. But they don't seem to be asking for handouts or making those kinds of demands.  Would we rather they were home watching T.V. and hoping the phone would ring offering them a job?  Seems to me they are doing some networking, talking with like minds, and perhaps getting some ideas out of their activities. Some of them are getting some great media experience. I'm willing to bet someone will come out of this movement with a new job, or an entrepreneurial idea. Perhaps it's making them feel good to be a part of something in a time when they might otherwise be feeling pretty isolated and disconnected.

It's a marketing strategy to pull your focus towards a product by introducing something without giving you the full details.  You see an add on a bulletin board on your way to work for instance and you wonder what they are actually advertising.  It's a tease. You start thinking about it. We're curious and we try and attach reason to things.  You wake up a bit on the drive and ponder it.  Maybe over coffee you ask if anyone else knows what the bulletin board means, or knows anything about this new product. It's the "made you look" strategy of getting your attention.  When the product finally comes out you're already so curious you figure you might just try it out. 

I don't think the Occupy Movement was planned along any kind of marketing lines, but it seems to me this is the effect they are having.  A lot of people are trying to figure out what they are about. We're talking about it, we're thinking about it.  We aren't totally ambiguous to them.  We are forming opinions. They are a news story. They are "making us look".

Maybe if the impulsive actions of a few meet with the "reasonable person" phenomenon we'll find some ground in the middle.  Maybe we will find multiple solutions to a pretty complex problem.  Maybe we will redistribute some power. Maybe we will wake up a bit to whatever it is, we as individuals, not as a collective, need to wake up to.

Some people claim this movement needs to be more organized, more structured if they want to have any impact.  I think if that happens, it will be a shame. I think that kind of collectiveness draws people to sides and invites conflict in an "us against them" mood. It seems to me this group is personifying the idea of individualism and celebrating individual awareness as the first step towards action. They aren't directing us towards anything. They are hoping we might see what they see, or see something they haven't been able to see. They want us to question what they question, and ask other questions, and perhaps have some input.  At least, that's what I think when I look at the movement. And if someone else sees something different, then that's their reality and that's just fine too.

This group is not about control.  They seem to be suggesting we reconsider control and power and find ways to balance reason and impulse and therefore take back some individual power.  The groups I saw don't even have an answer as to how long they will remain.  At first I scoffed at that. Now I see it from a different light.  I think they will just stay while it feels right to stay and leave when it feels right to leave. Maybe this really is a "new age".  Maybe that is success.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Cherry Plum when Control is a World View

Yesterday I started a series on Bach Flower remedies that match with a certain way of perceiving the world and events around us. If you tend to consider events as either within  or outside of your control, have "control issues", or often feel "out of control"; Cherry Plum may be a match for you.

Like all the remedies, Cherry Plum can be a state, or a passing mood.  Just because it resonates with you at one time doesn't mean you are a "Cherry Plum type" or that you see the world from the lens of Cherry Plum. On the other hand, this might strike a cord.

Dr Bach suffered through all the negative aspects of each of the Bach Flowers as his method of developing the series. Prior to his discovery of Cherry Plum, he had been suffering from an intense sinus headache. The pain of this headache was causing him to fear he might loose control and do something impulsive even though he knew such impulsive action was wrong. He doesn't explain whether this impulse might be suicide, homicide, cruelty, or something else, but that is the magnitude of impulse Cherry Plum addresses.  Personally, sinus headaches  have made me consider the use of a Black and Decker drill to create a hole in my forehead to relieve the pressure, so I think I can identify. I know that it will cause pain of a different kind, but sometimes it's difficult to maintain that sense of reason. It's the fear of separation from reason and impulse that Cherry Plum resonates with.

Dr. Bach prepared Cherry Plum using the boiling method.  That identifies the strength of the transformation that is sought from this essence. This essence is about intense feelings. It is included in Rescue Remedy to help relieve that type of impulsive action that can be brought about when your whole world is "out of control".

I've written about Cherry Plum before. I think it's particularly important as we evolve.  All the Bach Flowers have both negative and positive aspects, and relief comes when you find the balance in the middle. There are a whole range of possibilities in the sliding scale of these emotions.

I think the need to control and the fear of loosing control is a pretty common world view. I also believe that as our world shifts, old patterns change, and new ways of looking at problem solving or seeing our connections in a new light emerge, this view may become more pervasive. People all over the world are both challenging control and fearing the loss of control- sometimes at the same time.

When you view the world from the lens of Cherry Plum, you seek to maintain tight control over your part of the world, the events in your life, and your personal bubble. The Cherry Plum person might be considered a "control freak", if the loss of that control creates anxiety and fear.  There is a rigidity to this point of view. But this isn't the type of rigid structure that a Rock Water person maintains.  Rock Water types maintain strick guidelines because they believe that's the right way, the only way, to do something.  Cherry Plum types cling to structures and beliefs because they are afraid if they go, they will be overtaken by impulse and loose all sense of reason. It's fear that drives the Cherry Plum need to control. Fear of "the dark side", the unknown, the other world.

The Cherry Plum world view feels the pressure of a non-physical influence. They watch events unfold and believe a break down of normal boundaries will bring uncertainty to our lives. Like Clematis, Cherry Plum identifies with an "out of this world" presence and doesn't always adapt well to the material world. Clematis types don't  fight this presence. In fact they are drawn to just let go and float up to the ethers.  If you adopt the Cherry Plum view, you are more likely to try to maintain a connection with the material world because you both see, and fear, the disconnection. Cherry Plum types try to find the tie-in  between reason and impulse. They analyze and attempt to understand events as a combination of the two, because that's where they believe the control can be found.  In this Cherry Plum view, understanding is power and control.

But maybe we need to go to that uncomfortable place in order to find the change we sense. Perhaps it is in the loss of control and in the area of impulse that we find good as well as bad, enlightenment as well as fear. Dr. Bach created Cherry Plum through the boiling method to be a transformative, intense, powerful essence.

In the 1930's, Dr Bach in Ye Suffer From Yourselves wrote that:
"The action of these remedies is to raise our vibrations and open up our channels for the reception of our Spiritual Self, to flood our natures with the particular virtue we need.... They cure, not by attacking disease but by flooding our bodies with the beautiful vibrations of our Higher Nature, in the presence of which disease melts as snow in the sunshine."
Hmm....seems like the world could use a dose of that.

The Cherry Plum tree is a study in contrasts.  The twigs of the tree are dark, almost black, yet the blossoms are whitish pink, fragile, delicate, light and  beautiful.  Cherry Plum isn't consistent in the fruit that it provides.  Sometimes the cherries are yellow, sometimes orange, sometimes red, without rhyme or reason- impulsive, and yet, delicious in all it's forms. The Cherry Plum tree belongs in a class of it's own.  Botanists argue about whether or not it should even be classed as a tree.  It doesn't quite fit in the mold.

Taking Cherry Plum can help you find the courage to face events in your life without fear. The essence won't change your circumstances or prevent you from seeing events from your unique perspective, but it will help you to react calmly and without fear. It may help you let go of control gently so you can experience the light within and find a new world that is amazing rather than fearful. Cherry Plum may give you the mental strength and confidence to adapt to a changing world balanced in the middle between reason and impulse.

Here's to shifts without fear.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Willow: A Remedy for "It's Not Fair" World View

Most of the Bach Flower remedies are made from a very gentle sunlight method.  Flowers are picked at the height of their blossoming, they are gently retrieved and placed in a glass bowl containing spring water to absorb the energy of the sun.  The very process sounds soothing and calming.  The first nineteen remedies were all made this way. And then came the boiling method.

A few of the Bach remedies are made by boiling sections from the plant.  The plant, flowers, or twigs are put in an enamel pot with spring water and brought to a boil.  Once they reach the boiling point they are simmered for thirty minutes. The liquid is then filtered off and used in the mother tincture.  This method seems rather harsh, perhaps a bit shocking.

In a way, that's the point of the remedies that are prepared by boiling.  They address a response to the trials of life and are considered to transform thoughts and emotions. They can bring you out of a mind set to balance your world view.

We all have a "world view".  It's the way we choose to see the world and the events in it. Most people have a particular lens or filter from which they tend to see things. This view is perhaps shaped by our upbringing, and the circumstances that we find ourselves in. But, I'm not so sure about that. I think it might be deeper than that, and something we hold pretty tight to our core regardless of the events around us.  Sometimes we change our world view as our lives change and as we grow and develop. Certainly there are world views associated with chakra development that may contribute to our change over time.

At one time or another, everybody adopts an attitude or belief that they are a victim.  It's the "life isn't fair" principle where you feel you are on the loosing side of the equation. This can be a passing emotion, that comes and goes with events that occur in your life. It is a lesson or stage of development that is often related to the heart chakra.  If it becomes your world view, you might want to consider using the Bach Flower Willow, to clean off the Willow fogging your lens.

Everyone experiences trials, tribulations and misfortunes. Everyone has events in their past or present that can be considered traumatic and difficult.  There is lots of debate over whether or not some people experience more difficulties than others. If you find yourself counting up the events and find some satisfaction in the fact that your life has been, or is, more difficult than the lives of others, you're seeing the world as a victim. People who get caught in this Willow victim state, do have more than their fair share of difficulties. Or at least, that's how they feel.  Perhaps it doesn't matter whether they actually do or not. I don't think there is any point in the comparison. In fact, that type of analysis just fuels the Willow victimization state. Once you believe you're being treated unfairly you start to loose some energy. You take less interest in life and the things you used to enjoy. You turn inwards. Usually, that makes the problems even worse and you're trapped in a Willow cycle.

The Willow tree is actually a very fast growing tree.  In fact, it grows so fast, traditionally at least, the branches were cut back to make poles for fencing, to shape tools, or to use as firewood. This cutting back or trauma seems to make the trees grow even faster. They appear to grow out of resentment alone. When in a Willow state, the more you feel victimized, the more resentful you become. Rather than change directions to get away from the trauma, when in a Willow state, people often continue to "set themselves up " for the same trauma to occur over and over again.

The roots of the Willow tree grow very deep in search of water. In new housing complexes willow trees are often planted because of their fast growth.  New subdivisions can have tree-lined streets and look like established neighborhoods very quickly.  However, within a few years, many of those houses will have blocked drains and plumbing issues as the roots grow into the drainage lines and pipes.  (I know this because I was once such a victim!). Julian Barnard, in Bach Flower Remedies: Form & Function, writes that those with a Willow world view tend to be concerned with material success and they strive to search everywhere for money, the way the tree strives to find water. And yet, the more they find, the more they search, convinced that others have found a deeper source than they have. The search can in fact block the very source of their success. For some, the abundance of money, rather than the lack of,  becomes their complaint and they blame their misfortune on too much money. You can't win with those water searching roots it would seem.

The Willow world view is focused inward. They see events in terms of personal impact. They face problems by withdrawing from others and they often tend to wallow in their problems. In a Willow state the sense of sadness is strangely comforting and there can be a subtle sense of self-righteousness. When Willow types are ill they are never pleased or satisfied and will be reluctant to admit to any improvement in symptoms. Being around Willow types can be rather draining.  In a Willow state you carry some pretty heavy, doom and gloom type energy that can be a bit contagious.

Taking the Willow essence can help break the pessimistic, bitter cycle of self-pity that can develop with this world view. The remedy can help  you break out of the self-absorption so you can dwell less on your own misfortune and see other aspects of the world. The essences prepared by boiling are about soul evolution and spiritual enlightenment. Willow can help you stop blaming the world and others and allow you to see the more positive side of things.  Once you start to see the positive, and gain energy from that, you can become interested in the welfare of others and and an agent of change. The evolution of Willow is from a sense of resentment to joy.

Willow types are qualified and capable although they experience a great challenge. Barnard writes ,
"only those that are able to carry much are given the greater load. Accepting that load without complaint, transforming the bitterness into sweet acceptance, makes a real contribution to the evolution of the soul consciousness of life on earth. "
Coming out of that Willow world view can be difficult.  It's a cycle, and in order to break that, Walnut might be helpful in combination with Willow.  When a Willow person starts to come away from their self-absorption they can go through a pretty heavy layer of guilt as well. There can be a period of time when the blame shifts from others to self.  For that, Pine in combination with Willow may be indicated.  Life may not be fair, who ever said it would be anyway? But unlike today's cartoon picture,  that sense of "unfairness" is really not a perspective  you have to get used to.

If Willow doesn't sound like your world view, stick with me. Today at least, it seems like a good idea to address each of the Bach Flowers that matches a world view.  Unless my view of the world changes in the next week or so, I'll write a series on each on of these.

In the meantime, if you need some help along the way, or find a remedy you'd like to try, go to my website and consider a consultation. Sometimes everyone needs help to clean off the glasses and allow for a shift.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Gloomy jewels and the Bach Flower Mustard

In my part of the world, today feels kind of quiet and perhaps a bit heavy. Fall can be  like that. The brilliance of the leaves seems muted by mist and fog.  From inside it looks like it is cold and dreary. It's not. It's actually quite warm, but you have to go outside to realize, or at least appreciate, that.

It occurs to me that we are often mirrors of our environment. If that's the case, in this type of weather pattern,  you might find yourself feeling kind of muted, a bit foggy, as though there is a heaviness clinging to you. You might feel kind of sleepy and slow if you are in tune with the weather.

That feeling can be a good one.  It's good day to read a book, bake something special, or work or a craft project. It might be a good day to knit! For me this kind of weather is good for writing, editing, and document creation. I can feel "settled in" to focus and concentrate for some reason.

But we don't often stay in tune with the weather. Sometimes we just can't adjust our activities according to what the weather pattern is. Often we eliminate the disconnect between the weather and our daily life by climate controlled offices and buildings, artificial lighting and the absence of windows or the time to look out! Perhaps that keeps people more productive and steady. Maybe it makes people more comfortable to focus on the task at hand . Hmm...

Maybe we don't quite leave that genetic intunement to the weather behind in our modern world. Perhaps that attachment to the weather or that disconnect between the weather pattern and our activities leaves us feeling a bit unsettled. Some people feel a sense of gloom, or heaviness and  this cloud begins to descend  as a foggy depression.

Humans think to much. When we feel emotions, we start thinking about it. We wonder why we feel gloomy and a bit depressed. We analyze our emotions. Once we focus on it, most of us can start to come up with all kinds of reasons why we might be feeling a bit sad.  We don't really believe that such feelings can just come "out of the blue" so we start attaching some thoughts, some comparisons, all kinds of reasons for why we feel sad. Some people have to dig deeper than others. For most, the reasons for being sad are pretty close to the surface. We can float that treasure chest up to the surface of our brains and open the chest pretty quickly. Once the box we call "sadness" in that corner of our thinking brain is opened up we have a treasure trove of "sad jewels". We can pick each one out and examine it. We feel sad that we have that jewel, or that the jewel isn't as shiny as we would like it to be, or that we don't have enough of a certain color jewel. We think about how full the box of jewels is and worry that the chest won't hold them all.  Or we think about how few jewels we have in there and worry that we aren't "normal".  Pretty soon our cycle of thinking has us in a pretty dark and depressed place.  Well, now we know why we feel this way. Better? I think not! Hmmm...

Dr. Bach recognized this emotion and called it "deep gloom with no origin".  He developed the Mustard essence to help balance this feeling. He compared the feelings that resonate with Mustard as being like the descent of a cold dark fog that covers everything like an overcast day.

In Bach Flower Remedies Form and Function, Julian Barnard writes that the Mustard plant can grow wild, appearing seemingly from no where. and take over a field. Before the days of pesticides, the mustard plant could completely take over a feed of corn or another such crop despite the farmer's best efforts. Crops could be reduced by 50% by the appearance of the Mustard plant. The next year they might be gone altogether.  Apparently the Mustard plant seeds tend to be buried very deep and if the plough blade dug too deep the seeds were brought to the surface, would multiply and take over everything.

Mustard plants only develop when a field is left empty- ploughed so that the soil is bare. Barnard explains that the Mustard depression comes on when old patterns of life or thoughts are opened up (ploughed) and the seeds take route in the mind. Mustard fits in the category of "Insufficient interest in Present Circumstances" because that describes the emptiness of the mind. When you aren't in tune with the present, and not entirely focused on what is actually going on in your life, you sometimes fill that void with seeds of Mustard- doom and gloom.  Once you fill your mind with sad thoughts, it becomes overwhelmed.

The Mustard flower is a vibrant, energetic yellow color.  It is full of life, and that is the positive aspect of the Bach Flower essence. Mustard essence helps restore a sense of joy ,where you can feel supported by an inner stability and a sense of peace, freed from the cloudy gloom of depression. Just as the gloom descends from "no where", it can be lifted just as suddenly.

I think the ultimate ability might be to stop trying to fill an empty mind with thoughts and reasons.  If we could just feel the weather, go outside and appreciate the sights and smells, the heaviness, allow our bodies to adjust to changing patterns and shifts without having to fill in all kinds of thoughts and reasons, we might be able to enjoy the fog and mist. But if you find yourself overcome with a sense of doom and gloom, a few drops of Mustard might help prevent you from "filling in the blanks" and creating a cycle of deep depression.

Maybe there is a good reason why pirates bury their treasures. Maybe those jewels, like the mustard seeds are better left right where they are!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Closet Knitting Confession

Every fall I get this  urge to buy some yarn and do some knitting.  I have no idea where this feeling  comes from.  I'm really not very good at knitting. I'm never really sure what I could knit that would be easy enough, yet useful.  Since this urge hits me every year, I have a lot of scarves!

I remember learning the very basics of  knitting as a pretty little kid. I come from a line of very accomplished seamstresses and knitting was part of the package. My memories aren't very clear except I remember countless times taking a ball of yarn and needles to my mother and asking her to cast on for me. For some reason, the casting on was the difficult part, although I can't imagine why that was so. I guess the hardest part of any project is sometimes getting started. She patiently did it every time and I don't remember her ever insisting that I learn how to do that myself. Hmm...

At some point I must have learned the skill because I remember knitting in University and Mom wasn't there to do the casting on! After classes and supper we used to end up meeting in the dormitory hallway, each one of us with a knitting project. Icelandic sweaters where "in" at the time and they weren't something you bought, they were something you created, so we were all doing it.  Great bags of multi-colored yard and round knitting needles.  So many of us would end up there over the course of the evening that we always met in the hall- never in someone's room- not enough space.  We be lined up on both sides of the hallway in more or less a circle so that we could see and hear everyone- our knitting in the middle. We knitted and talked, knitted and complained,knitted and philosophized,  knitted and cried,  knitted and laughed. It was very addictive. You'd tell yourself you'd just finish one more row and then you'd go study, or go to bed, but by the end of that row, it seemed like a better stopping point would be just those few more  rows of pattern, or just to the end of that section etc. etc.  We had some long knitting nights. I guess it was our therapy.

It must have worked, because most of those knitters are now doctors, or bankers, accountants or CEO's. A couple are lawyers. At least one is a psychologist.  For the most part we were a pretty "hard core science" lot. Interestingly, there wasn't much representation from the fine arts side in our knitting group.  Maybe those guys were knitting masterpieces that were a bit above our skill level!

I have come to realize that you never know who will be a knitter.  Unlike previous generations where everyone knit as a survival skill, my friends tend to be "closet knitters".  It's not something we advertise.  We don't knit in public and we don't consider it as a skill set we talk about much. We think others would be surprised to learn we sometimes knit, and yet we aren't really that surprised when we find our friends knitting. It does give me the sense that I've found  a kindred spirit when I accidentally discover a "closet knitter" though. I had that feeling yesterday when I checked into a friends blog.  I love her writing and appreciate her spirit and this blog posting is amazing.  I am awed by her insights and her willingness to share.

For me at least, there are probably a lot of reasons why I don't exactly advertise my knitting fetish, and the reasons have probably changed over time. When I was younger I would  been embarrassed to whip out my knitting in public. I'm pretty sure I would have taken a bit of heat and ridicule from the guys if I had gone to work with my knitting basket. In more recent years I think I would have kept my knitting projects to myself because I didn't  want people to think I had the "leisure time" to knit. Surely I was way to busy multi-tasking and producing to allow myself the peaceful luxury of knitting. Thankfully, I've given up on those emotional layers.
You can probably tell a lot from another person's knitting. My stitches tend to be a bit uneven, my results just a little bit misshaped, always bigger than the pattern suggested. I never go back to pick up a drop stitched. I just kind of fix it up as best I can and make up for it later. Probably a good indication of Impatiens and Clematis traits from the Bach flower line. Some people are Rock Water knitters.  Their stitches are perfect.  They would unravel back rows and rows to fix a stitch, although it's rare they would ever drop one in the first place. Some people have multiple unfinished knitting projects all on the go at the same time- Wild Oat comes to mind. Some people never knit from a pattern, they just trust their inner guidance- Cerato. Some people spend a long time in the yard store trying to decide whether they should get the red or the blue yard- Scleranthus. Some people can't handle the sound of the clicking needles or the feel of the wool on their fingers- Beech. People that are envious of your knitting or the fact that you can find time to knit might find some Holly helpful. People that would like to knit but just aren't sure they could figure out the pattern might need a bit of Larch.  Those that feel guilty that they don't knit might think about Pine. I could go on and on, but you get the point.

So I bought some yarn, I've made a couple of pairs of socks and I'm starting on matching mittens.  The pattern looked pretty daunting at first for the socks.  But if I don't read ahead, or look at the instructions until I get to that point, it makes perfect sense.  If I just do what the pattern suggests, each row at a time, they come out like a Heather version of the picture. They are kind of big, definitely look hand-made, but they feel great and I've taken family requests.  I've made a red pair of socks for myself- very grounding.

I've come out of the closet with my knitting- literally.  I've arranged my balls of yarn and my needles in an old wooden bowl that used to be my mothers.  She kept balls of yarn in it too, although I rarely saw her knit anything. The yarn looks beautiful in there and it's easy to access in a hurry if I get an urge to knit a row. Every time I look at the bowl I'm reminded of my roots and I think about the encouragement I've had to do some pretty crazy things over the years whether I was good at them or not. I remember the help I had, no questions asked,  with "casting on". For that I am eternally gratefully.

Happy knitting!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Fall Orange and Independence of Comparison

Everywhere I look today I see the color orange. The only flowers that are really left are orange calendula and orange sunflowers. This color seems reflected in all the changing leaves. It seems in my part of the world, each fall there is a predominance of one of the three leaf changing colors: yellow, orange, or red, and this year it is orange.  I think there is a scientific explanation for this that has something to do with the type of summer and fall weather we experience.  A combination of temperature and moisture levels apparently contribute to the colors.  I'm sure that's true, but I have come to decide that sometimes there are greater lessons to be learned if you take science out of the equation.

The color orange resonates with the second chakra. This chakra is all about lessons of independence. It is at this stage in our development that we realize who we are, apart from those people and influences around us. This development sometimes occurs around the age range of 8 to 14.  It can often be in these teenage years that we gain a greater awareness of self. This chakra is linked to creativity, vitality, and sensuality.  We start to experience all our senses in an opened and aware way when this chakra is balanced.

When the sacral or second chakra is unbalanced we can become pretty confused about who we really are and what our place is in the grand scheme of things. We can get mixed up between what we really want, like and feel and what others like, want and feel. We start to do that "herding" thing again and can't sort out what thoughts are ours, and what are the thoughts, dreams and desires of the herd we are in. Our creativity gets squashed a bit because we are so busy comparing ourselves to those around us.

If you consider  the Aries full moon, the presence of the owls and the orange colors of fall, it is as though the universe is screaming independence.  And even if you don't live in a part of the world where the leaves are changing to orange colors, I bet right about now you are seeing real and fake orange pumpkins all over the place.  The colors of October, thanksgiving and Halloween, are orange in all shades and flavors.

We spend a lot of time trying to be globally connected. The world has opened up and we are aware of the lives and conditions of people and cultures that would never have entered our consciousness a few years ago. But that connectivity should not be confused with comparison in my opinion.

We do a lot of comparison that leads to internal imbalance. It seems we compare our feelings and situations with others almost constantly.  The media helps us continually compare.  We watch weather patterns in different parts of the world or country and compare it to our own. We either feel lucky or disappointed by what we see. We compare body shapes, financial status, job satisfaction, and lifestyles.  Although we talk about "finding a balance", most of the time we aren't really happy to be in the middle.  We want to be on one extreme or the other and I'm not sure it really matters which end we're on.  We say we appreciate it when our weather is moderate and we are facing the extremes of heat, flooding, or snowfall.  But we seem to be a bit proud when our own weather makes the news for it's extreme effects.  We think that makes us hardy somehow, survivors. In comparison, we must be tougher, more resilient.

We do the same thing with our emotions. We say we are looking for peace and contentment and yet we do a lot of time comparing how we feel. We talk to others about how difficult our lives our, how lonely we feel, how sad or depressed we might be. We spend perhaps equal amounts of time discussing how happy we are, our fortunate our situation is, how easy we have it. If we run out of others to compare situations with, we compare how we feel now to how we felt 20 years ago, or how we think we might feel 10 years from now!

Perhaps achieving independence and a balanced chakra occurs when we stop thinking and comparing and just feel. If we could just be where we are and put our awareness to it without judging our feelings we might find more energy, vitality and creativity.  Maybe we could be fueled by our own emotions rather than trying to contain them into something that fits with a world view we hold at this point in time, a point of comparison. Maybe if we didn't keep fueling our emotions with our comparative thoughts, we could get out of swings and extremes and find ourselves peacefully in the middle. Maybe, just maybe, if we could get to that point of equilibrium, if we separated ourselves from the energy of others, and listened to our inner selves, we could find peace in that harmonious place of self. True self. Independent self.

Maybe fall is about letting go of the comparisons we have been making.  Maybe it's about sloughing off those things, standards, goals and aspirations that aren't really your own in the first place.  Maybe fall, the Aries Moon, and the Owl are suggesting it's time to go within and discover who you really are and what you really want to be. 

If you want to find our more about the second chakra, foods to soothe, and Bach flowers to balance, order a  copy of the Sweet Shack & Bach Bar You can compare yourself to the characters in there... or not! But nothing really rhymes with the word "orange", and nothing really compares with the "real you".  Shed the comparisons and cherish your independence. Enjoy your colors.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Full Moon in Aries, Owl Signs & Independence

Today we enter a Full Moon in Aries phase.  Pretty powerful stuff. Just when I thought the world was maybe settling into the fall and winter season by slowing down and getting ready to hibernate, I think something very different may be gearing up.

In my part of the world it would seem the owls agree with the idea of new insight and activity. They were hooting like crazy under the nearly full moon the other night and into the morning.  Not something to be ignored. Owls have a special place in my heart.  They are totem animals . I have written about Owls before but perhaps I didn't get them enough "air time". Or maybe it's the combination of the Aries full moon and the Owls that should be considered.

According to my We'Moon 2011 book, the moon in Aries is a time of awakening. It is said that the Moon in this position lights a fire under us and strips away both our complications and our patience.  This  is a good time to make a fresh start. It isn't about waiting for things to happen, it's about making them happen. It's a time to shoot from the hip, and speak up. It's a time to  initiate projects or activities. People born under an Aries Moon, are said to be passionate and  honest ,but fierce in their approach. They can be big-hearted, but they are very independent and self-directed. The challenge for this Aries type energy is to invent your life rather than just react to events.  It is about choosing where you want to be rather than reacting to what you perceive to be choices presented to you by external forces. Hmm...

If you put that type of energy together with the lessons from the Owl, the message becomes quite interesting. The Owl is considered a symbol to act on your highest wisdom. The Owl signifies a need to see clearly through the darkness.

Daniel Mapel, in Into the Heart of the Wild, reveals the Owl as an animal essence  to be recommended for those who need to listen to their inner wisdom when facing uncertainty or confusion. Mapel suggests the Owl enhances your intuition and encourages clarity of the mind so that you can see the truth at the heart of situations. The Owl may encourage you to speak with a compassionate voice that comes from your highest place or true knowing.

So before you use the energy of the Aries Moon and speak quickly and from the hip, perhaps you should focus for moment on whether or not you are speaking from your higher self and whether your words will create what you truly want, or whether they are a reaction to something that doesn't really warrant your focus.

People that have the Owl as a totem animal, are often able to face authority and speak for themselves. But they are also able to separate what is true for them, rather than what might be advice that isn't quite right for them.  As a totem animal, the Owl helps us to see clearly what lies behind external circumstances and identify what beliefs may be limiting our growth and desires.

Both the Aries Moon and the Owl speak to independence. Together, they suggest this is a time to think outside the box, away from tradition or convention in order to put into action what is best for your higher self. Perhaps it's time to let go of what we think holds us down or prevents us from moving forward as individuals. This isn't really "group energy", and it isn't about leading others to a particular truth. It's about clearly seeing what is right for you as an individual and using the forward motion of the Aries Moon to make that happen. But if we all started to move forward on our own paths, the collective motion might be amazing. And in my opinion, the world could use some new ideas for moving forward.

The ability to listen to your inner knowing can sometimes be helped with the Bach Flower essence Cerato Let's face it, in our very core, our "heart of hearts", we know what path we should be on and what is right for us. It's that "thing" that feels right and light and true. But we tend to be pack animals and we get blinded by what others tell us to do, suggest we should do, market as what we need to do, or claim we are limited by. Cerato can help you step away from the pack and make decisions for yourself from a clear and balanced position.

The Aries Moon suggests the time is now. Listen to the Owl in you and get moving. Take the first step towards whatever your goal is. I think if we start really working with the energy of nature we could make our lives so much easier.  In dense energy times we wouldn't bash our heads against the wall, and in high energy, lots of momentum times, like the Aries Moon, we could expend  less energy and get great results.

The moon is on your side. The Owl is looking over your shoulder. You don't need anyone else but yourself. There is nothing to hold you back.  Enjoy the journey!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Animal Signs: Coyote

Coyotes are making the news again in my part of the world. Apparently the government is extending a $20.00-per-pelt bounty for trappers between Oct. and March of next year. This program was brought in last year amid much controversy. The move was fueled by several "sightings" of coyotes in urban areas, and a lot of fear expressed by parents of young children and pet owners. I don't remember much talk about coyotes around here until 2009 when a young woman was  attacked and killed by coyotes in a Provincial Park.

I have lived in other parts of Canada where coyotes are much more a "fact of life" than they seem to be around here.  I have often gone to sleep with the howl of coyotes in the background.  In my opinion, it is both a soothing and haunting sound.

Folklore is full of accounts of coyotes, and they are considered a totem animal. The role of the coyote as both a story character and as a totem animal is often one of a trickster. They seem to have dual roles of wisdom and folly, intelligence and child-like innocence, truth and illusion. They are considered shape-shifters in their ability to walk between two worlds in this dual nature.

People that have the coyote as a totem animal tend to be full of contradiction as well.  They often have a very playful child-like quality to them but they are also prone to deep contemplation and tend towards periods of introspection. They like to be multi-taskers with a lot of projects going at the same time. When the lack of focus prevents these projects from getting "accomplished", these people can become discouraged and lose faith in themselves.

Coyote energy is said to be tied to simplicity and trust. They come to this world with a wide open heart, expecting the best of everyone and everything. This trust can sometimes get them into trouble when others aren't always worthy of that trust. This can cause the "coyote person" to sense disillusionment and become suspicious of even the most honest intentions. That wide open heart can be slammed shut as they close themselves off to their wounds. When operating in their "shadow side", the coyote can betray the faith of loved ones. The lesson of the coyote is perhaps to listen to their intuition rather than believing in either what they want to believe, or refuse to see. Once working within these boundaries, they make the right decisions and know who is worthy of their trust.

There is even opposing sides to the howl of the coyote. In some instances, it is a call of unity between family members. They cry as a means to stay in contact across great distances.  A lone coyote will howl in search of a mate beside who they will stay for the rest of their lives. The small family unit is important to coyotes.They are good parents and look after their children well. But the song can also be a rallying cry. It can be used to summon the pack before a hunt, or to chase away intruders.

People that have the coyote as a totem animal tend to feel they are on earth for a specific purpose. Despite feeling this sense of mission  they are unsure what that special purpose is and will often spend years attempting to figure that out. At times they may feel they get "glimpses" of this calling, only to have self-doubt cloud their vision once again. It is only through exploring multiple paths where they are challenged both intellectually and spiritually that they find their purpose. Once they find it, they tend to share their insights with others.  They often  become educators or writers so they can transmit their ideas and philosophy to others. It's that shape-shifting again- they bring the lessons, thoughts, or experiences from other worlds into the here and now.  Once they find their purpose they will "howl their coyote song".

There are a number of Bach Flowers that seem to be a match for the coyote as an animal sign. Wild Oat, Chestnut Bud, and Cerato all may be helpful.

Wild Oat is typically used to help people find their purpose. In this case,  is not used to prevent chasing multiple dreams, because the coyote person will need to pursue multiple avenues, but to help you use your talents to pursue more than one career, direction, or goal at the same time. The great curiosity of the coyote makes it difficult to focus and they become easily bored and distracted. Wild Oat can help encourage some discipline so their sharp intellect is used in multiple ways. Sometimes the right path may have several layers. As a shape-shifter, multiple paths become do-able.

Chestnut Bud may be helpful to those following a coyote path.  The journey is not always an easy one for the coyote. They tend to make life difficult for themselves as they continue to trust people that aren't worthy. They sometimes make their life more complicated than it needs to be and loose that ability to enjoy the simple child-like pleasures they seek. Remember Wile Coyote and the Roadrunner from the Bugs Bunny cartoons. So many times he kept making the same mistake as the roadrunner cruised right past him! Chestnut Bud can help you learn from your past mistakes and from observing the mistakes of others in the pack. With less repetitive mistakes, there is more free time to enjoy the simple life.

The coyote person is infused with wisdom and intellect. But they walk to the beat of a multiple drummers. Their path is not often understood by those around them. Society doesn't really support or approve of coyotes. We fear them for their wisdom, we ridicule their playful silliness, we punish them for lack of focus. We put $20.00 bounties on the ability to trap them.  But the coyote knows what is best for the coyote. So too it is with coyote people.  Only you know what is best for you. If you need some help to trust yourself, Cerato is the Bach Flower for you. Cerato can help you listen and trust that intuition. It can help you accept your shape-shifting, dual nature as a gift despite what others say or feel.

Maybe in this shifting time, the coyote is making it's appearance to encourage us to see through our illusions. Perhaps the coyote wants us to think about how we are reacting to nature and find new ways to sing our songs in harmony, respecting each other for their differences and fostering the development of new worlds beyond our current vision. Hmm...

Perhaps the coyote is here to show us we're under the illusion that we have far more control over things than we really do.  Maybe instead of invoking bounties and instilling fear, we should respect the coyote for it's talents, but at the same time, lighten up a bit. Maybe we could learn to trust and enjoy a simpler approach to life if we embraced the duality the coyote presents.  If nothing else, maybe we should just learn to howl at the moon!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Bach Flower Beech for Irritability

With the colder weather of fall, the leaves in my part of the world are starting to flash their brilliant colors. One of the trees that often turns a distinctive coppery color is Beech. I've mentioned Beech as a Bach Flower essence in the last few blog postings, but it really deserves a post of it's own.

Beech essence was discovered by Dr. Bach as one of the the last set of remedies.  It isn't considered a soul type, but is more of a passing emotion, a temporary state of being. But powerful nevertheless.

Beech is grouped within the category of "Over concern for the Welfare of Others", but at first glance that seems like a strange fit. When in a Beech state, you are irritated by others rather than seemingly concerned for their well-being. This essence is recommended when mannerisms and actions of others are rubbing you the wrong way.  If you feel bugged, hypersensitive to, and just plain "ticked", by the people around you- Beech is the essence for you.

The Beech state is one of intolerance of others. It is indicated when you feel critical towards others. Your judgements of others is harsh when in this state and you find it hard to see the good in others. People who can benefit from Beech appear a bit superior to others.  They seem convinced they are right all those around them are wrong. The person in a Beech state is very good at finding fault with everyone and everything in the world around them. Beech people aren't exactly dominant when in this state. At least not like a Vine or Impatiens dominance, but they seem to suppress the freedom of other people's self-expression. Their criticism is so harsh and constant that others are likely to withdraw.

As described in Bach Flower Remedies, Form & Function, by Julian Barnard,  Dr. Bach went really deep into what people were really feeling when they displayed outward traits. He believed the Beech state was an outward expression of an inner feeling of discontent. When you don't feel you are getting what you want or deserve, you express it by criticizing everyone and everybody to show how wrong the world is. In an effort to straighten up the discontent, when a Beech state, people seek exactness, order and discipline. There is a very narrow standard of perfection when in this state and people can become very fussy, with real attention to cleanliness and detail.  Once again, this is not the constant "type" state of order that might be characterised by a Rock Water, but a rather sudden swing. Things, people, mannerisms, actions and noises that you might not have even noticed or been distracted by a few days ago, suddenly seem intolerable.

In the Beech state, you turn your inner feeling of inadequacy, restlessness, or discontent into what appears to be an "over concern for others". Instead of criticizing your self you turn that criticism towards others in a bit of a mirror approach. Much of what bothers us in others is because we see it as a reflection of self, and this is particularly true in the Beech state.

When you act "Beechy", you are likely to drive others away.  In fact, it appears to them as though you would prefer to be alone because they seem to be driving you nuts anyway. When in a Beech state, you may even seek this isolation. This isn't the same urge to be alone of a Water Violet type. Unlike Water Violet's who most often like to be alone and are comfortable there, in a Beech state, you aren't needing to be alone as much as you need to not be with others.  There is a subtle difference. In a Beech state, once you gain your isolation, it is unlikely to give you the comfort you imagine. Quite the contrary.  Faced with no one else to place your intolerance on, you may find a sense of inner vulnerability.

The description of the Beech state sounds a bit like the emotions of  Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS). In fact, Beech can be very helpful for such tumultuous states. The irritability of the Beech state can also be a match for allergies and food intolerances, particularly if the symptoms seem to come and go. If you find yourself saying that someone else's mannerisms, loud music, hobbies, or habits are "giving you a headache", Beech may be the essence to try.

As a remedy, Beech essence works by re-balancing your own sense of confidence. By restoring your inner core to a place where you feel good about yourself, you can once again see the good in others. Beech allows you to soothe those inner thoughts so that you don't see your imperfections reflected in others. Once your compassion for an unity with others is restored, you may find yourself soothed by the company others. Your over-concern for others is no longer a need to fix their imperfections, but is replaced with a genuine concern, tolerance, and an ability to appreciate their quirks and actions.

When in a Beech state, it is very helpful  (for both you and those around you!) to remember that "this too shall pass". This state is usually transient in nature. But it can be quite damaging. If you don't want to alienate people and cause damage you will have to repair once you come out of your Beech state, you might benefit from a few soothing drops of the essence.

Changing seasons, changing moods, flucuations in hormones, seasons and cycle, , and a shifting universe can all be cause for a bit of imbalance. If that imbalance is shaking up your core to the point where others are driving you nuts and irritating your last nerve- reach for a bottle of Beech.

Let's face it- once in awhile, we could all use a bit of Beech!