My blog recently won a gold medal from the Coalition of visionary Resources
Multi-Award winning Author, Julie Loar, explores feminine empowerment in today’s culture and the value of ancient wisdom…
My blog recently won a gold medal from the Coalition of visionary Resources
Multi-Award winning Author, Julie Loar, explores feminine empowerment in today’s culture and the value of ancient wisdom…
“May we come and go in and out of heaven through gates of starlight. As the houses of earth fill with dancing and song, so filled are the houses of heaven. I come, in truth. I sail a long river and row back again. It is a joy to breathe under the stars. I am the sojourner destined to walk a million years until I arrive at myself.”
Normandi Ellis, Awakening Osiris
Existence is vast, seemingly boundless and immeasurable. The latest figures from NASA estimate that there are one hundred billion stars in our Milky Way galaxy pictured above. There are also estimated to be a jaw-dropping two trillion galaxies in our universe alone. It’s impossible to comprehend this immensity of scale, and yet it’s believed by scientists that we are also part of a multiverse. Perhaps an unknown number of universes co-exist in a Cosmos of parallel dimensions that spread light through infinite space and time. What is the significance of one brief human life in all this immensity?
The ancient Egyptians were master sky watchers. Monumental temples aligned with the rising of bright stars and calendars and ceremonies were planned based on the sky. Egyptian funerary texts called the Book of Gates proclaimed that when Ra, the sun god arrived at the twelfth and last hour of the night, before dawn, the miracle of rebirth occurred through the gate “with the mysterious entrance.”
In The Traveler’s Key to Ancient Egypt, author John Anthony West describes Egyptian funerary texts as “manuals of spiritual instruction” and says the Duat is the “field” in which the transformation of the soul occurs. The theme of transformation and reclamation also runs through other ancient mystery traditions. Many ancient gods were seen as solar and stellar fire, and many rites represented the redemption and regeneration of this spiritual energy. The ineffable mysteries they sought to unveil, and the hidden knowledge the rites contained, held and transmitted this wisdom. Manly P. Hall, in Secret Teachings of the Ages says, “Mysteries were the channels through which this one philosophical light was disseminated.”
The Eleusinian Mysteries of ancient Greece took place from 1,600 BCE to about 400 CE, although most scholars believe their origin is much earlier in the Mycenean period. They were contemporary with, and bear strong resemblance to, the Egyptian mysteries of Isis and Osiris. In the Greek mysteries the goddess Demeter, carrying two torches named “intuition” and “reason,” searched the world for her daughter Persephone, who symbolically represented the lost soul. She had to be rescued from the underworld, where she had been abducted by the god Hades.
Sometimes the light seems to go out in our lives and we can be deeply challenged by a darkness of spirit. Although we know the Sun still shines behind the clouds, and the stars still burn even though hidden in cities by artificial light, at these times we need courage and the love of friends. Poet Khalil Gibran said, “One may not reach the dawn except by the path of the night.” This is true, but there have always been those who hold lanterns to guide our way through the darkness to the mysterious entrance of initiation. We can take heart that this universal path of spiritual teaching has permeated spiritual traditions throughout time. Often called the Underground Stream, the spiritual wisdom of ages is always present, even though hiding in the shadows at times. Our job is to remember that the light is always there and to prepare ourselves to receive the gift of ancient wisdom, which sheds light on the Path.
“Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing,” Helen Keller
This October I will embark upon my thirteenth trip to Egypt with a dozen other intrepid travelers. It’s remarkable really as I never expected to go even once. But I have always been deeply called to do so. My parents told me I was fascinated with Egypt from the age of three. They would find me asleep on open pages of my uncle’s National Geographic magazines, dreaming of pyramids, temples, and fabulous jewelry no doubt.
My affinity with ancient Egypt has been an enduring feature of my life, and given my interests and proclivities, I feel certain that the waters of the great Nile have flowed through my veins for millennia. We are so accustomed to short life spans, and a disbelief in superluminal travel, that we can scarcely imagine how vast and limitless the Cosmos is. I have come to understand that my soul has worked for lifetimes to heal and integrate experiences from ancient Egypt, especially at Abydos during the time of Ramses II and his beloved wife Nefertari 3,300 years ago. I have come to understand that I was born into this lifetime with unfinished business that is long overdue to complete. And so I return, and each time I dig deeper.
Helen Keller and Amelia Earhart have always been major she-roes. Another is Beryl Markham, who was a pilot and horse trainer in South Africa during the “Out of Africa” times. Author Ernest Hemingway praised her work and said it made him ashamed to call himself a writer. I think of those women, and other profoundly courageous souls I have known, in moments of fear and doubt.
Moving out of our steady states of comfort and the illusion of safety causes us to grow, to widen our horizons, and to experience more of the world. Unless we are narrow and spiteful by nature, we are better for it. We all face choices in life about how we respond, and some of them are profoundly difficult. Some of us wait for the verdict of a test that could yield a terminal diagnosis, or learn to walk again after a debilitating injury. Others pick through the rubble of what was once a treasured home after the ravages of a storm or fire. How do we move on? How do we face loss and uncertainty?
Death is certain, only the timing is unknown. It seems richer to embrace the unknown and cultivate a sense of adventure, grabbing onto life for all its worth, the joy and the sorrow, and the surprises that come when least expected.
Let me know if you feel called to Return to the Nile with me this fall.
Kalki, the last incarnation of Vishnu — Image credit — Jose-Patricio Aguirre (Chile)
“I often tell this story in workshops, for it describes the work we aim to do, and the training we engage in. It is about the coming of the Kingdom of Shambhala, and it is about you, and me.” Joanna Macy
“Coming to us across twelve centuries, the Shambhala prophecy comes from ancient Tibetan Buddhism. The prophecy foretells of a time when all life on Earth is in danger. Great barbarian powers have arisen. Although these powers spend much of their wealth in preparations to annihilate each other, they have much in common: weapons of unfathomable destructive power, and technologies that lay waste our world. In this era, when the future of sentient life hangs by the frailest of threads, the kingdom of Shambhala emerges.
You cannot go there, for it is not a place; it is not a geopolitical entity. It exists in the hearts and minds of the Shambhala warriors. That is the term the prophecy used – “warriors.” You cannot recognize the Shambhala warrior when you see him or her, for they wear no uniforms or insignia, and they carry no specific banners. They have no barricades on which to climb or threaten the enemy, or behind which they can hide to rest or regroup. They do not even have any home turf. Always they must move on the terrain of the barbarians themselves.
Now the time comes when great courage – moral and physical courage – is required of the Shambhala warriors, for they must go into the very heart of the barbarian power, into the pits and pockets and citadels where the weapons are kept, to dismantle them. To dismantle weapons, in every sense of the word, they must go into the corridors of power where decisions are made.
The Shambhala warriors have the courage to do this because they know that these weapons are “manomaya.” They are mind made. Made by the human mind, they can be unmade by the human mind. The Shambhala warriors know that the dangers threatening life on Earth are not visited on us by any extraterrestrial power, satanic deities, or pre-ordained evil fate. They arise from our own decisions, our own lifestyles, and our own relationships.
So in this time, the Shambhala warriors go into training in the use of two weapons. The weapons are compassion and insight. Both are necessary, the prophecy foretells. The Shambhalla warriors must have compassion because it gives the juice, the power, the passion to move. It means not to be afraid of the pain of the world. Then you can open to it, step forward, act.
But that weapon by itself is not enough. It can burn you out, so you need the other – you need insight into the radical interdependence of all phenomena. With that wisdom you know that it is not a battle between “good guys” and “bad guys,” because the line between good and evil runs through the landscape of every human heart. With insight into our profound inter-relatedness, you know that actions undertaken with pure intent have repercussions throughout the web of life, beyond what you can measure or discern. By itself, that insight may appear too cool, conceptual, to sustain you and keep you moving, so you need the heat of compassion.
Together these two can sustain us as agents of wholesome change. They are gifts for us to claim now in the healing of our world. Many in the Tibetan lineage believe that this is the time of this ancient prophecy. If so, perhaps we are among the Shambhala warriors.”
These are powerful words and a call to action, reaching across time. We must find the strength and courage to arise and be the best we can be at this time of challenge. I stand with you, brave warriors of the heart. May we have courage.
“Until one has loved an animal a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” Anatole France
It’s taken a few months to feel ready to write this post about my kitty Harriet. On my January birthday in 2004 I went to the Humane Society thrift store to make a donation that resulted from a post-holiday clothes evaluation. I had a single-minded focus and adopting a cat was the last thing on my mind, but close to the entrance was a large wire cage, and inside was a charming grey-brown tabby cat. It hadn’t been too long since I’d lost my beloved dog Baron, and I had resolved not to have any more pets. I had convinced myself that I just couldn’t go through the loss and grief again, but it seems that Harriet and destiny had other plans.
She stood up inside the cage, came to the front, and spoke to me very clearly, “Take me home. I have chosen you.” I was stunned and promptly went into fierce denial. I handled my donation and went straight home. But of course, I couldn’t get her out of my mind, so I went back the next day to see if she was still there. Destiny has a mind of its own in such matters, and Harriett became my beloved animal companion until April of 2018.
Harriet was named by the Humane Society when she had been rescued, having been abandoned. I looked up the meaning of the name, which is “ruler of the house,” and laughed; what a perfect name for a cat. Harriet’s sweet nature and companionship helped me through some very difficult times that included a divorce, a move, and essentially starting my life over in 2007. The picture of her in front of the Christmas tree celebrated our first holiday season alone after a painful separation and a wrenching loss of my home. Her presence gave me strength, and caring for her helped me focus on moving forward. It’s impossible to adequately express the gifts and blessings our animal friends bring to our lives. We love them deeply, and the loss is hard to bear when their short lives end.
Although her last months saw a continual decline, she jumped up on the couch on our last night together, and we snuggled. I didn’t know it would be our last night, but I told her she was free to go, and tried to express what she had meant to me. The next day she left her body on her own terms when I ran out for a short errand. She spared us both the trauma of “putting her down,” and when I came home and found her she looked peaceful. I am so grateful for that miracle. Her ashes now rest in my flower garden, and I planted a purple Clematis in her honor.
This brief memorial honors not only Harriett but all of the wonderful animals who have blessed my life, the pets and wild creatures alike. I will be forever grateful for the joy they gave so unselfishly and the richness they added–they teach us so much about unconditional love and letting go. I’m not ready for a new animal companion, but if it’s meant I guess another precious creature will find and choose me.
After more than five years of deep and amazing work with my two partners, Sue Lion and Karen Stuth, Quintangled has finally arrived. It’s an indescribable thrill to see a long-held vision come to life and hold the result of intense creativity in your hands. Like life, and our game, it’s been quite a journey. Words can’t really express the gratitude expressed here to those of you who supported this effort during our crowd funding campaign–without you this dream would not have become a reality. You should have your games by now, and we’re eager to get your feedback. (If you pre-ordered a game and haven’t received it, let me know). It would be awesome if you would consider writing a review on Amazon as that makes a big difference in their selling algorithms.
And, if you weren’t able to acquire a game before, they are now available on Amazon. Click on the link to go to Amazon https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=quintangled
Answer the herald’s call, step on a path to adventure, and enter a magical realm. A role of the eight-sided die will determine your archetypal destiny as a Knight, Lover, Jester, Healer, Dreamer, Sage, Monarch, or Priestess. Meet the Wizard, and receive Magical Aid as you cross the threshold to embark upon your journey. Along the way you’ll meet guides, guardians, and mentors as well as face perils and threats that will challenge your resolve. Magical creatures and Oracles of Wisdom will offer unexpected aid. Crossroads, choices, and tests will help you gain courage and wisdom to awaken your heroic self. On the return journey you’ll have the chance to express your heroic qualities and make a difference in your world.
Enjoy the journey!!! Endless love and boundless gratitude.
This June (2018) my blog was awarded a gold medal.
When I began my blog it was meant to be a gift to me–something I did for myself as a purely creative outlet. There would be no deadlines, no publishers, no pressure, no one criticizing my ideas (certainly with only the best of intentions I’m sure). My blog would be just my words that emerged from the crucible of my life, reflecting on events and observations that stood out in sharp relief. Of course I hoped those words might reach out across the interconnected web we share and maybe, just maybe, someone would be touched, amused, or inspired.
Writers learn about, and quest for, that illusive thing called “voice. ” A writer’s voice lives at the heart and soul of the work, embodying a unique and precious quality. I’m no different–I long to find my voice. I’m still on that journey, but it’s always deeply satisfying to receive recognition even when we are still a work-in-progress.
The life of a writer is often solitary, even insular. We spend a great deal of time in the company of our own thoughts and internal processes. Unless we are fortunate enough to have some notoriety, we usually don’t know what impact our work has, and I think we desperately want to know if it does.
Receiving an award is an external vindication that something we’ve accomplished is seen to have merit. And I have to admit, I love having a gold medal on my blog. But what means the most to me are the comments I have received from readers–you who are reading these words right now. Most of you I don’t know, but some of you have taken a moment from your busy lives to make a comment and connect in the mysterious manner of our digital world.
My life has been blessed by the words of other authors, some long gone. I have wished many times that I could send them a comment and let them know what their words have meant. Although the blog is still my gift to myself, it’s your comments that keep me going. So in a real sense this award is shared with all of you, and I send my deep gratitude.
“Sometimes I wonder if the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it.” Mark Twain
The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County is an 1865 short story by American author and humorist Mark Twain. The story was actually his first great success as a writer and brought him national attention. Something captured America’s attention and remains a compelling influence. Since 1928 an annual event inspired by Twain’s story has been held at the County Fair in Angels Camp in Northern California’s Calaveras County. Similar events are held in Indiana, Ohio, Washington, Maine, Missouri, Louisiana, New York, and also in Manitoba, Canada.
This May I witnessed the qualifying pre-trials from the bleachers as hopeful entrants coached their frogs into top performance. The contest is simple–which frog jumps the farthest in the one-minute time allowed per contestant. The record holder in Calaveras County is Rosie the Ribiter, who jumped 21 feet and 5 3/4 inches in 1986. Frog jockeys can win a $750 prize, or win the grand prize of $5,000 if a competing frog were to break Rosie’s record. It’s not clear what the frogs get out of the experience.
With 4,000 contestants in 2007, the Calaveras County contest imposed strict rules that regulate the frogs’s welfare, including limiting the daily number of a frog’s jumps, and mandating the playing of calming music in the frog’s enclosures. One assumes this is an attempt to reduce pre-game jitters. Because California’s red-legged frog is an endangered species, it’s barred from the competition. It is also forbidden for any competing frog to be weighted down by any means, as the frog in the Twain story was. Hopefully, the frogs don’t suffer too much as I worry about such things. After all, they’ve been captured and removed from their natural habitat and forced to enter into an all too human realm.
Photo credit Frank Schulenburg CC BY-SA 4.0 2016
The frog jumping competition is a generous slice of American Pie. There is a whimsical quality of tradition, innocence, and plain good fun at a time when simple joys like County Fairs seem to be a thing of the past. Some frogs take the leap right away as if everything depends on the result. Others are frozen in place and never budge from the starting circle no matter the “encouragement” from their jockeys. This year’s winner jumped more than nineteen feet, certainly impressive, but not far enough to break Rosie’s record. Was it frog ambition or just sheer terror that fueled Rosie’s tremendous jump back in 1986? All the jumpers since have to go over that bar and perhaps Rosie was a unique frog at a singular moment. Maybe her frog jockey Joe Giudici had so much faith in her that his energy boosted her rockets.
I reflected on what it is that propels us to our greatest accomplishments and how can we learn to harness that propulsion at will? Do we make quantum leaps in our own lives through grit and will, or is there something else that moves us to peak moments of achievement? We can’t always choose the arenas of tests and trials that present themselves, but we always have the choice of how we show up to meet the contests. As we meet the challenges in our lives I believe it makes a difference if we call forth our best effort rather than refusing to try because we’re afraid we’ll miss the mark. Until we try we can’t know how we might be changed by taking the leap. And maybe we also have unseen cheerleaders whose faith in us lifts us to greater heights and longer distances once we jump. We can stay safe in the pond, or maybe become a champion–the attempt is up to us.