Sea Change

                         “Those who are awake are in a constant state of amazement.”     Jack Kornfield

Earlier this week I left home for what should have been a routine trip downtown. I was first in line at a red light, waiting for the light to change. When the light turned green I was aware of car to my right that had stopped at the light. The coast was clear, but a strange thing occurred.

As if a voice said “wait,” or someone held my arm to prevent me from moving, I did not move forward through the green light. Then, without any other warning, a car came from the right at a high rate of speed. The vehicle swerved to avoid crashing into the rear of the stopped car and rushed into the oncoming lane of traffic. Thankfully those cars were stopped for the red light. The speeding car scraped the whole driver’s side of the stopped car, and then came to a screeching halt on the right side of the road.

For an instant everything froze and time seemed suspended. Then, as if released from a restraint, I knew I could now proceed through the green traffic light. I felt dizzy and in an altered state. I was very aware that if I had automatically moved through the light when it turned green, I would have been in the direct pathway of the speeding vehicle. That car was going so fast I feel certain my beloved Honda would have sustained terrible damage—perhaps even total damage. In the worst case it could have been a fatal accident for the driver of the car and even for me.

My first emotion was gratitude as I imagined a series of possible scenarios. This “near miss” has not been far from my mind all week, reminding me that everything can change in a moment after which life is never the same. The incident was also a profound reminder of the importance of mindfulness, staying awake and present as we move through life. It was a stunning teaching moment. Mindfulness is a key practice in Buddhism. One description is becoming fully aware in the present moment–not dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. When we act purely from instinct we lose awareness of the present moment. I always endeavor to listen to my intuition, and this experience proved the benefit of that practice. In that moment when guidance spoke I listened, and it made all the difference.

I have experienced a sea change—a shift in perspective. The term first appeared in Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and means a “change caused by the sea.” The term describes a profound metamorphosis. The sea doesn’t change, we do. We live in an ocean of consciousness, and something in those vast waters spoke to me, and I am changed. My resolve is to live more in the present moment, keeping mind and heart open, listening for the Voice of the Silence. May it be so.

Wearing of the Green


 “I would like an abundance of peace. I would like full vessels of charity. I would like rich treasures of mercy. I would like cheerfulness to preside over all.”           ~St Brigid of Kildare                                                                                                                                                                                               

The color green, and the shamrock, do not really belong to St. Patrick and the festivities associated with this saint. They were ancient symbols, appropriated by the Catholic Church in its effort to eradicate the worship of ancient goddesses in particular and paganism in general. Ireland is certainly known as the “emerald isle,” but green is the color of the Earth, and the three leaves of the shamrock form an ancient symbol of the Triple Goddess: Maiden, Mother & Crone, or wise elder. Although legend claims St. Patrick used the shamrock to teach about the male trinity, the three-fold deity was far older, by thousands of years, and was a symbol of the Divine Feminine. It’s sad that instead of a mighty goddess of healing and returning light, we think of drinking green beer. The shamrocks I wear today honor the Goddess.

Brigit, or Brigid, the “exalted one,” or “bright one,” is a goddess of pre-Christian Ireland. She appears in Irish myth as a member of the Tuatha De Danann, the people of the goddess Danu, a Celtic race of gods. They were believed to live on “island in the west” and to have perfected magic. Brigid is associated with fertility, healing, poetry, and the craft of metal smithing. Cormac’s Glossary, written in the 10th century by Christian monks, says that Brigid was “the goddess whom poets adored” and that she had two sisters: Brigid the healer, and Brigid the smith. This indicates that she was originally a triple goddess archetype.

Medievalist Pamela Berger says, “Christian monks took the ancient figure of the mother goddess and grafted her name and functions onto her Christian counterpart, St. Brigid of Kildare.” Both goddess and saint are associated with holy wells, at Kildare and many other sites in the Celtic lands. Tying pure white wool cloths next to healing wells, and other methods of petitioning or honoring Brigid, still occurs in some Celtic lands. This ancient goddess was so powerful and revered by the Celts that she was brought into the Catholic pantheon as a beloved saint.

Brigid’s festival is February 2, Imbolc, the half way point between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox. It is a pagan festival that celebrates the return of life after winter.  Imbolc is one of the four major Celtic “fire festivals” that are the midpoints between the equinoxes and solstices. Christians call the feast of St. Brigid Candlemas, and a ritual of candles as sacred flames are lighted. In a dim reminder and insulting echo of its symbolic power, we now call this date Groundhog Day.

St. Brigid, like the goddess, is associated with perpetual, sacred flames, such as the one maintained by nineteen nuns at her sanctuary in Kildare, Ireland. Giraldus Cambrensis and other chroniclers reported that the sacred flame at Kildare was surrounded by a hedge, which no man could cross. Men who attempted to cross the hedge were said to have been cursed to go insane, die, or be crippled. One is tempted to see poetic justice. The tradition of female priestesses tending sacred, naturally occurring eternal flames is a feature of many ancient traditions, including the Greek Hestia and the Roman Vesta.

Some researches believe that St. Patrick was a fictional figure loosely based on a Roman priest. The legend that he banished snakes from Ireland is yet another reference to the wisdom of the Divine Feminine, often symbolized as a serpent, that the Church drove underground as the patriarchy rose to power. However, Ireland is one of a few places on Earth that does not have native snakes, but that is believed to be a result of the last Ice Age.

Thanks to the efforts of heroic researchers and scholars this knowledge is being rescued from the past. Knowing our true history empowers us. Although I prefer to find my inspiration from an ancient and powerful goddess, I can also hearken to the wise words attributed to St. Brigit of Kildare in the quote above, and I think the goddess would agree. As women increasingly find our voices and our power, balance will be restored on our planet.


Reflections on International Women’s Day

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”                                                                                      ~Anais Nin


International Women’s Day (March 8, 2017) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. Its roots in 1905 lie in far left socialism, and until this year, it was little known or noted in America. The movement’s call to action includes efforts to achieve gender parity.

In a profound synchronicity I began reading a book earlier this week that I had acquired some time ago in a second hand store.  Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books, was published in 2003, and written by Azar Nafisi, an Iranian professor of literature. The book remained on the bestseller list for 117 weeks and won several awards. It is the story of a secret class for young women that Dr. Nafisi held in her home in Tehran, in the Islamic Republic of Iran, during the reign of the Ayatollah Khomeini.  She had resigned from the university in a dispute because she refused to wear the veil. The young women met every Thursday morning for two years, until Dr. Nafisi left Iran in 1997 to teach in America.

The girls risked a great deal to participate in their exploration of forbidden Western classics. They arrived at her home garbed in the legislated heavy black robes and veils that the Islamic theocracy dictated. But once inside a transformation occurred. The young women removed these shields to reveal brightly colored clothes, nail polish, and forbidden jewelry, carefully hidden beneath. This unveiling transformed them from prisoners of religious tyranny into young women with unique personalities, dreams, and longings. The veils and robes were powerful metaphors for cloaking the identities of the vulnerable but courageous human beings beneath them.

They came from different backgrounds and economic conditions and at first were uncomfortable with each other. What their teacher saw, and why they had been hand picked, was their passion for learning and their love of literature. Her vision was to transform their lives through great fiction and to experience the power of a free and illumined mind—even in a dark place. Indeed, a powerful metamorphosis occurred and their lives were changed through their journeys through great literature.

Nearly a decade ago I was inspired with my own fiery vision to write a book about the divine feminine. That impulse grew out of my own research on another project where I had passed through the locked gate of what passes for history and discovered a temple of hidden wisdom.  I entered that veiled portal and found a deep vein of previously unknown riches about the divine feminine. That revelation turned into a constant lament, “Why don’t women know about the rich history of the feminine half of the divine?” My indignation was channeled into my book Goddesses for Every Day, which would certainly be forbidden in Iran.

Reflecting back on the week of International Women’s Day, and delving into Nafisi’s haunting memoir, is that the battle is far from over. I am always left wondering why the feminine principle has been so diminished and demonized for more than four thousand years.  I naively believed that I had been born into a time of positive change when ignorance and bigotry were becoming ghosts of a misbegotten past that had been relegated to the darkness from which they came.

However, when I look around my country and the world it gives me pause. Even though half of the students who enroll in medical and law schools in America are now female, the worldwide abuse of women is on the rise. I can never comprehend the depth of irrational fear that drives this. We must redouble our efforts to stand in our feminine nature and our power. That power is not force or domination. Authentic feminine power is the magnetic energy of love. When genuine it is a radiant quality of acceptance, inclusiveness, and empowerment. Now more than ever we must risk whatever it takes to open our petals to the light and thereby flower into the magnificent blossoms we can become. The risk is still great, but the reward is beauty and strength beyond imagining.

Let’s open ourselves to the possibilities.




What Does it Mean to be the Earth?

On February 22, 2017 NASA made a stunning announcement. The Spitzer Space Telescope has revealed the first-known system of seven Earth-sized exoplanets (planets outside our solar system) in orbit around a single star. This system is in the constellation of Aquarius and is about 40 light-years from Earth–relatively close in stellar terms. NASA believes three of these exoplanets may be in the habitable zone where a rocky planet is likely to have water. If you can’t see the image here view on Facebook

In a radical departure from the opinion that “earths” are exceedingly rare, widely held only a decade ago, scientists are now realizing that Earth-like planets are common. Data from the Kepler Space Telescope suggests there may be more than two billion planets in our galaxy alone that are in the Goldilocks zone that could support life. This new awareness requires a radical shift in our paradigm relative to our place in the scheme of things. The idea that we are unique, or alone in the cosmos, becomes fantasy. The reality is that the Universe is likely teeming with life, and this life may be diverse and “alien” in appearance and nature, or perhaps familiar, if evolution has proven templates of form. The implications are complex and far-reaching.

As these astronomical discoveries increase with improved telescope technology we may well ask what does it mean to be an “earth?” The modern English word for our planet dates back at least a thousand years.  The word “earth” came from the Anglo-Saxon word erda, and it’s Germanic equivalent erde, which means ground or soil. Nearly every language has its own name for our planet. It’s called terra in Portuguese, dünya in Turkish, and aarde in Dutch. The common thread is all these names were derived from the idea of ground—where we stand.

Many researchers insist that beings from other stars, with more advanced technology, have been visiting us for at least a million years. We could even be the offspring of ancient colonizing travelers. Human beings on our “Earth” still have a difficult time relating to others who might have different colored skin, or different religious beliefs. We fight wars over which of the “one Gods” is the true deity. When will we become mature enough to face the truth?

When we become a truly spacefaring race, visiting planets in other star systems where life exists, we will be the alien ETs. It’s daunting (and exciting) to imagine the variety of beliefs that might exist in the wide expanse of our galaxy, never mind the Universe. Frankly, I can’t wait to board the Enterprise and go see for myself.

(Image credit NASA).