A butterfly emerging from a chrysalis

“We must let go of the life we have planned to be able to accept the one that is waiting for us.”

Joseph Campbell

Metamorphosis is a total change of form, or morphology. We are familiar with the caterpillar that spins a cocoon and is completely transformed inside the chrysalis, changing from a crawling creature into a majestic being with glorious wings. In biology the chrysalis is the hardened outer shell that protects the vulnerable caterpillar as it goes through the stages of transformation. Symbolically, the chrysalis has been used to represent a sheltered state or stage of being in which something or someone is utterly transformed.

For those who are committed to spiritual growth, it seems that life is a constant chrysalis. The Buddha taught that life in form is temporary, and if we cling to the form, we suffer. We are constantly challenged to leave the past behind and embark upon an unknown journey.  We are often tested by what life presents, and I believe the measure of our “suffering” is equal to the amount of our resistance and expectation. We have to be willing to surrender in order to be transformed–willingness changes everything.

We live in a time of profound change, even turmoil, and if we are to survive we must also be transformed by the change occurring around us. Joseph Campbell also said, “You enter the forest at the darkest point where there is no path. Where there is a way, it is someone else’s path. If you follow someone else’s way you won’t realize your potential.” I find those words equally thrilling and terrifying. Entering that dark forest takes courage, but our willingness to take the unknown step leads to metamorphosis.

A Chinese proverb states that a  teacher opens a door,  but we must enter by ourselves. Looking back at times of profound change in our lives we can see how our choices made all the difference and where courage changed our lives. As we face the dark forest, or ponder an unknown path, we have a choice. We can cling to the familiar but illusory safety of the ground, or embrace the dissolution of our earthbound consciousness, pass through the open door of transformation, and soar on wings of spirit.

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Mother’s Day


Mother Goose

To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power.”                           Maya Angelou

Motherhood is indeed a power, and like any other force of nature, it’s effects are never the same, especially at the eye of the storm.  We have all been shaped by our mothers, and the reach of that influence has long arms indeed. For some that love was tender and nurturing, for others there may be wounds and loss. However we experienced that power our mother’s influence is profound.

Although many celebrations and festivals honoring mothers and motherhood have been celebrated by diverse cultures for thousands of years, the first modern celebration of Mother’s Day occurred in 1908.  Anna Jarvis held a memorial service for her own mother in St. Andrew’s Church in Grafton, West Virginia. That church is now home to the International Mother’s Day Shrine. She began a campaign to create a national holiday in the US in 1905 after her mother’s death. Ann Reeves Jarvis had been a peace activist who cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the Civil War and believed mothers should work for peace.

The national holiday was rejected at first, but by 1911 every state observed the holiday. Woodrow Wilson finally signed a proclamation in 1914, declaring Mother’s Day a national holiday to be celebrated on the second Sunday in May.  Although Anna Jarvis was successful in achieving a Mother’s Day holiday she deeply resented its growing commercialism. The market for greeting cards had grown by 1920, and she felt the store bought cards and gifts misrepresented the original intention of the day. She liked the idea of handwritten letters and homemade gifts, and she boycotted card companies, even threatening lawsuits. Sadly, as in many other things, commercialism won out. It seems that the deeper, richer, and stronger meaning of motherhood has become lost in a cloud of sentimentalism.

As I contemplate Mother Nature, and Mother Earth, I am struck by the awesome beauty and power of the force that gives birth to everything. And while mothers can be gentle, there is no ferocity in nature as intense as a mother protecting her young. That is true bravery and unconditional love. I believe mothers fight “for” something, while others battle against. Together we can be unstoppable.

I have been daughter, granddaughter, mother, stepmother, grandmother, and sister.  Each of those relationships has been deep and complex–at times loving, and at times filled with conflict and pain. Every aspect of Motherhood has shaped my life and engendered a reverence for the feminine side of the divine. On the second Sunday in May I will honor all that is feminine and all the mothers in the world, whether they are animal or human.

Blessed be.

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Doves – Guest Blog from my husband, Ted

Perched Dove Marking a Mercury Direct Station Point

by Ted Denmark, Ph.D.              Avery, CA               May 3, 2017

Picture1.jpgI had spoken with Julie earlier in the morning for a bit longer than usual about our various plans and current affairs, and now I was getting my highly-esteemed, shiny chrome-plated Pavoni espresso machine cranked up for a morning Peru blend with the usual 2% organic Clover Dairy’s half cup of milk.  The very bright sunny morning was a bit shocking after so many rainy overcast days this now mid-spring season, which has already become the wettest season on record in Northern California.  For some reason I impulsively happened to look up and out the east window on my right hand and noticed a mid-sized bird on the wing, about 50 yards away, flying a diagonal course towards the house.  I immediately noticed that this was not a common bird to see in this area, so I looked more carefully as it approached.  It was smaller than a Raven and larger than an acorn woodpecker commonly seen at this higher level in the air lanes habituated by the local feathered bipeds.  I could see the curious white markings on the underside of its wings, of a kind I could not remember ever having seen before.

Wow, this could get interesting, I thought, as I remembered I had left the telephoto lens on my trusty little camera from a successful quick shot of a clever and cheeky ground squirrel that had climbed to the top of the house totem pole, an old snag left over from a forest fire many decades ago, to get its portrait taken.  As soon as the grayish flyer made its way to the top perch of a recently expired Ponderosa near the southeast corner of the house, and after setting its position, I made my way into the living room to get the camera and make my way outside to see if this pole sitter was still going to be there when I arrived.  It was.  I cranked up the camera and quickly twisted the function rings for max zoom at infinite distance and stopped all the way down.

I put the bogey at mid-screen, and not wanting to waste any time betting on the whimsical behavior of always jumpy bird life, I squeezed off the first shot.  The backscreen viewfinder on this camera is not particularly good or bright enough outside on a sunny day, but I thought my chances were good enough.  I couldn’t really get the orientation of the bird because it was too far away to actually see in the setup (this is not a DSLR or even mirrorless camera), except to notice it was there.  I waited a half second and squeezed off another.  I was having to hunch down a bit to remain in the shadows while still having the perch in view above the roof overhang, which was not exactly comfortable … so I looked around and moved back on the deck to get under another roof overhang that would allow for a full standing posture while steadying the camera on the nearly redwood  post.  I arrived and squeezed off a third shot, beginning to feel confident that I would have at least a few shots to tidy up in “post production” (no pun intended until noting).

At that moment the barely visible bird talent made a short series of three calls, clearly those of a dove that I had often heard in the bushes on the hill behind the house, but I had only succeeded in seeing the originator of such calls scurrying around on the ground a few times in all the years of living out on my Sierra ridge.  These were clearly the loud and distinctive “coos” of a dove, delivered the moment before this lovely charmer jumped up and flew away to the east, the direction from which it had come just a few moments before.  So, the three coos were a good match for both the date and the number of shots I had taken … just in time.

I walked back into the house to sit down with my “continental breakfast” and take stock of the next amazing description of a civilization in my Star Elixirs book done by my old friend Michael Smulkis, now recently deceased.  I mused to myself, “I’ll have to call Julie and tell her this dove story—she always loves to think of doves, the symbol of our Pleiadian home world.”  Another curious thing about this novel perched-bird sighting, I had noted, since Julie and I had briefly discussed this in our morning update, was that the planet Mercury was about to “go direct on its station point” in about an hour.  Lots of curious things always happen on these Mercury station points, either as it goes retrograde (now having a more widespread understanding among hip folk) or turns direct, like today.  In fact this dove caper, I had realized, began at the very minute (9:33 a.m.) of the station point!  This really was amazing, and unlike anything I had ever witnessed in my escapades in birdland!  I chose to wait a few more minutes before calling Julie so I could finish the last bites of my breakfast and have a moment to ponder  why this might be happening—of course, I could already think of several situations to which it might apply.

But no need to wait any longer, the phone was ringing, and it was the dear sweet beautiful lady herself, calling with a tone of excitement, to tell me that she had just come back from our lot in Pagosa Springs, CO where three large loads of dirt were being dumped by truck for the eventual base of our house foundation.  I let her describe a few more of the details before telling her of my rare and likely propitious dove sighting just a few minutes before.  It only took us a couple of moments to realize that my bird sighting and photo op had occurred at exactly the same moment as her trip out to the lot to christen a load of dirt being delivered to our building site … and indeed at the very moment of the Mercury Direct station point (!).  Excitement was in the air and on the ground.

Nothing quite like this had ever happened before: that is, simultaneous events, one for each of us, timed to coincide with a super-classic astrology aspect that we both always note with some anticipation and gravitas.  It was also true that I was just finishing the transcription and edits of our Telepresence Conference 64 of the *Five Star Series* … which was about “revisioning Astrology” (!).  Well, this would be “one for the books” … one of our very own books in the series of bird antics with a highly suspicious backlog of meaning for our navigation through the twists and turns of life.  We finished our call with ‘high fives,’ and I soon finished my breakfast and went to my media computer to download whatever I may have gotten in my morning mini-shoot.

Get Ted’s new book, Winged Messengers, at Amazon. Click on the image.                                                                                                 51nxTuKN0XL._AC_US160_.jpg