Aries Goddesses: The Double Axe of Crete

Eva Krocher CC BY-SA 2.5-Labrys_Kettenanhänger

Labrys of Crete  (author Eva Krocher CC BY-SA 2.5)

 

“Courage is acting in spite of fear.”   Goddesses for Every Day

Aries is a Cardinal Fire sign that begins at Spring Equinox in the northern hemisphere, the time of equal day and night.  The character of Aries is the force of spring emerging out of the collective dissolution of the twelfth sign Pisces.  Aries is irresistible force, and represents the principles of resurrection and individualization, the symbolic point of all beginnings, and onset of the circle of the seasons.  Aries has traditionally been represented by the Ram, and its energy tends to be pioneering, initiating, headfirst, impulsive and adventurous.

The Goddess Sign for Aries is the Double Ax of Crete, called a labrys, a ritual implement that was wielded by a priestess.  The labrys was a symbol of royal power and was not a weapon, although it may have been an implement in the sacrifice of sacred bulls.  The word comes from the same root as labyrinth.  The earliest labyrinths were found in Southern Europe and date to 4,000 years ago, although the labyrinth at the Minoan site on the island of Crete is likely older.  Aries are pathfinders, and walking the sacred path of a labyrinth, wielding the Double Ax, seems a fit metaphor for the pioneers of the zodiac.  Aries goddesses include gentle goddesses of spring who embody new beginnings, the light of dawn, cyclical renewal of the Earth, and the rebirth of life.  In contrast, Aries goddesses are also pioneers who blaze new trails, courageous leaders and fierce warriors who have the will to do battle.  The quality of vision, enabling Aries to move forward in the direction of the new path, is vital.  Aries goddesses are independent, possessing a keen sense of adventure, and they understand that courage is acting in spite of fear.

Aditi, whose name means “limitless,” is the Hindu goddess who is clothed with the Sun.  She is said to be the self-formed Mother of Worlds.  She is sometimes seen as a cosmic cow that supplies milk that is a redemptive drink called amrita.  She gave birth to the twelve spirits of the zodiac, called Adityas, who are her children.  One of them rules each month.

Eostre, pronounced Yo-ster, is the Germanic goddess of spring.  She is also called Ostara, or Eastre, and her name is the origin of the world Easter. She is a goddess of dawn, rebirth and new beginnings. Her festival is celebrated on March 21, the first day of spring, when she is invoked at dawn with ritual fire that is seen to quicken the land.  Persephone is the Greek goddess of cyclical rebirth.  Each year when she returned to the surface of the earth from the Underworld, and was reunited with her mother Demeter, the world bloomed again.

Nike is the Greek goddess who embodies the idea of victory in every aspect of life, including athletics.  Because of this, designer Jeff Johnson, hired by footwear entrepreneur Phil Knight, recommended using her name.  The power of the ancient goddess manifested in the most successful shoe company ever.  Proving that size is not a measure of power, Nike was sculpted by the Greeks as a tiny winged figure.

Reindeer Goddess is a Siberian reindeer spirit and guardian of all newborns, especially those born in spring.  German archeologists discovered a complete female reindeer skull mounted on a seven-foot ritual pole that had fallen into an ancient sacrificial lake near Hamburg. Aged antlered females such as this were sacred to ancient tribes and their shamans.  Among ruminants such as deer, it is the elder females who become the pathfinders and leaders of the pack.

Gendenwitha is an Iroquois dawn goddess whose name means “she who brings the day.”  She is seen in the form of Venus as the morning star. Olwen is a Welsh goddess of spring and sunlight whose streaming yellow hair flows behind her like sunlight as she moves.  Her name means “white path,” and it is believed that she leaves a trail of white clover as she passes and awakens the meadows of spring.

Theia is one of the Titans, the powerful beings who preceded, and gave birth to, the Greek Olympians.  Her parents were Gaia and Ouranos, the earth and sky, and her name is generally translated as “goddess.”  Two of her children were Helios, the sun, and Selene, the moon—the lights of heaven.   Inanna is an ancient Sumerian goddess of love and wine, but also battle.  She was known as the “holy virgin,” which at that time, meant she was an independent goddess who never married.  She is often shown standing on two griffins, female mythical beasts with lion bodies and eagle wings.  Like other goddesses, Inanna made an annual descent into the underworld and a triumphant return.

Al Uzza was an early desert goddess of pre-Islamic Arabia, and part of a trinity of goddesses that includes Al Lat and Al Menat.  Her name means the “powerful one,” or “mighty one,” and she was worshipped as the morning and evening stars.  She was the young maiden aspect of the Triple Goddess and was shown as a mighty warrior riding astride a camel.

Eris is the Greek goddess of discord and strife.  Her mother was the primordial goddess Nyx, whose name means “darkness” or “night.”  Her name was translated into Latin as Discordia.  Her Greek opposite is Harmonia, whose Latin counterpart is Concordia.  True to her nature, she is now also the dwarf planet who caused the demotion of Pluto.  The Greek poet Hesiod describes two very different goddesses named Eris, or strife, in his Works and Days.  “So, after all, there was not one kind of Strife alone, but all over the earth there are two.  As for the one, a man would praise her when he came to understand her.  But the other is blameworthy, and they are wholly different in nature.”  The archaic definition of strife was earnest endeavor, which seems more like honest striving and healthy competition.  It is also like the friction that promotes growth.  Seen in this way, the principle of discord, or strife, is the motive force of growth that yields the pearl in the oyster.

As the time of the Aries goddesses begins at spring equinox in the northern hemisphere, we can choose to awaken from the quiet inner time of winter and emerge renewed. We may choose to do battle with our inner demons, finding strength and courage in the example of these goddesses.  Or, we might take the path of rebirth and plant the seeds that will blossom as the realization of our hearts’ desires.

 

Based on and excerpts from Goddesses for Every Day © 2010 by Julie Loar.   Printed with permission of New World Library, Novato, CA www.newworldlibrary.com

 

 

Saturn-Pluto Conjunction Jan 2020

“We are living in what the Greeks called kairos­­–the right moment ­­for a ‘metamorphosis of the gods,’ of the fundamental principles and symbols.”

                                                                                    Dr. Carl G. Jung

The Return of Persephone Lord Frederic Leighton (1891)

Saturn and Pluto will form an exact conjunction in a single intense pass on January 12, 2020. The two planets conjoin roughly every 33-38 years as Pluto’s eccentric orbit causes the timing to shift by zodiac sign. The conjunction will contain five planets at 22 degrees of Capricorn that includes the Sun, Ceres, and Mercury. It’s a powerful lineup as the planet of structure combines with the energy of hidden influences and is fueled by the force of the Sun. This rare concentration could trigger a redistribution of power globally and nationally. Corrupt structures may be revealed, and we may see deconstruction and reconstruction based on tests of integrity and unraveling moral fiber. The conjunction will also offer a preview of the Pluto return in America’s horoscope in 2022. 

Earlier interpretations of Saturn/Pluto conjunctions have focused on the dark side and chronicled violent upheavals. These energies cannot be denied as this planetary combination can bring things to a dramatic end. But there is potential for an expanded view of this energetic combination based on a re-examination of their myths. 

Before telescopes only five planets were visible to the naked eye. The Greeks called them asteres planetai“wandering stars” as they appeared to be bright lights that moved against the background of “fixed stars.” They named these moving stars after their gods, and the Romans followed the Greeks. The fastest moving planet was named Mercury, after the swift-footed Messenger of the gods. Venus was bright and beautiful, so she was named after the goddess of love and beauty. Mars looked red in the sky, so it seemed apt to name that planet after the god of war, and Jupiter was king of the Olympian gods.

Saturnus was an old Roman agricultural god who ruled in a past golden age. Under Saturn’s rule, humans enjoyed the spontaneous bounty of the earth without labor in the “Golden Age” described by Hesiod and Ovid. The Romans equated Saturnus with the Greek Cronus, although their natures were quite different in some ways. Saturnus taught the Romans agriculture, and his annual winter solstice festival called Saturnalia bore hallmarks of our Christmas and New Year celebrations. We do not know why the Greeks named the planet we call Saturn after the elder Titan god Cronus rather than  another one of the Olympians. We can suppose the Greeks acknowledged the idea of time, since this planet was the slowest moving of those visible, and therefore signified the slower motion of old age. 

Astronomy has retained the Roman planetary names, and astrology still uses the archetypes of Greco-Roman gods, complete with their flaws and foibles. With increasingly powerful telescopes we can now see the planets and peer deep into space. Our ability to experience the influence of planetary energies has also grown, and modern changes in society should be taken into account. Therefore, I believe it is time for a “metamorphosis of the gods” and a re-examination of symbolic identities. The Saturn-Pluto conjunction offers just such an opportunity.

Since 2006 Pluto has been designated as a dwarf planet. Pluto’s moon Charon is half the size of Pluto, and is tidally locked, so the two are considered a dynamic binary dwarf planet. The other known moons of Pluto are Nix and Hydra, Kerberos, located between the orbits of Nix and Hydra, and Styx. All of Pluto’s moons were named for mythological figures associated with the underworld, a naming convention begun by 11-year-old Venetia Burney in 1930.    

The underworld idea took root. Astrologically Pluto governs the symbolic underworld–what has not yet been redeemed in our psyches. This includes hidden and dormant conditions that need to be brought to conscious awareness, purged, and transformed into new sources of power. Pluto is the urge to regenerate and transform. Pluto rules those who work under the surface such as miners, psychologists, nuclear physicists, and undertakers. Certainly the darker side of Pluto can’t be ignored as the idea of plutocracy, an elite class whose power derives from wealth, stems from Pluto’s misuse. Gold is the source of wealth and the origin of greed–it is an axiom that power corrupts. 

The standard interpretation of Pluto can be expanded and deepened if we look at earlier myths, as Pluto was not always the god of the underworld. Pluto is cognate with the Greek Plutos, which means “riches.” He was the Greek god of wealth, giver of gold, silver, and other subterranean substances. Because these gifts were mined, Plutus became recognized as the god of the physical underworld, which in turn became the spiritual underworld, and therefore death. In Greece, this earlier god was sometimes called Hades, which was also the Underworld itself. 

According to Hesiod, Plutus was born in Crete and was the son of the goddess Demeter and the Cretan Iasion. Sometimes he was the child of Pluto (Hades) and Persephone, where in the theology of the Eleusinian Mysteries, he was regarded as the “Divine Child.” In art he usually appears as a child with a cornucopia and is shown with Demeter and Persephone. 

Demeter and her daughter Persephone were the central figures of the Eleusinian Mysteries, a religious tradition that predated the Olympian pantheon, and lasted for 1,800 years. Similar rites occurred in agricultural societies of the Near East, Egypt, and Minoan Crete. The mysteries were secret initiatory rites that represented the symbolic abduction of Persephone by Pluto-Hades in three phases: descent (loss), search, and ascent. The marriage of Pluto and Persephone was at the heart of this religion, and the main theme was the ascent, or return, of Persephone and annual reunion with her mother. This cycle is parallel to the archetype of the heroic journey described by Joseph Campbell. 

Within the Olympian pantheon, Pluto-Hades was permanently confined to the Underworld. It was Persephone, the feminine aspect, his wife and queen, who made the annual depth journey and return to the surface of Earth. Each year Persephone descended into shadows and dark places, the realm of death and buried secrets. Symbolically, she is soul and psyche, representing the psychological work of the shadow. She always returned to the surface, bringing light and warmth, while Pluto remained below as king of the Underworld and all it contained—gold and old bones. 

In the case of Saturn, the astrological influence is the embodiment of form, and the dramatic rings surrounding the planet represent the idea of limitation. Saturn is the cohesive force that binds. The ringed planet gives form to our life experiences and also provides our lessons. Saturn constructs, deconstructs, and reconstructs—no form is permanent. When we deal with Saturn we deal with authority, both our own capacity to wield authority, and our ability to be led by and learn from others.

Saturn’s influence by transit brings a reckoning, facing payment of what has come due. If we squander our resources we become bankrupt, but if we are prudent our assets can grow. This is not a cruel or vindictive figure wielding a scythe, but rather a principle of equilibrium, seeking balance. This law is a self-correcting mechanism that brings an end to structures whose life cycle is ending and are beginning to decay.  

An alternative mythic identity for the ringed planet could be Demeter. Like the other visible planets, she was one of the twelve Olympians, goddess of the harvest who presided over grains, agriculture, cycles of the year, and the fertility of Earth. More importantly, she was the goddess who presided over sacred law and the repeating cycle of life and death. One of her titles was Thesmophoros, “Law Bringer,” an apt name for the planet said to be exalted in Libra. Sacred law, like karma, is not punishment but the direct consequence of choice and action; we reap what we sow. 

There is precedent for Saturn being a feminine planet, even among the Greeks. In an early text by Hellenistic astrologer Dorotheus of Sidon, Carmen Astrologicum, he states “the feminine planets are Saturn, Venus, and the Moon, and the masculine planets are the Sun, Jupiter, and Mars.” Mercury was seen as both. This brings more balance to the planetary gender polarities. Isabelle Hickey, author of Astrology: A Cosmic Science, describes Saturn as both the Dweller on the Threshold and the Angel of the Presence, the testing and teaching agency by which we learn and master our life lessons. She describes Saturn as a feminine archetype and penned a poem about her, saying “freedom is only found through Saturn’s discipline.”

In Qabalah, Saturn corresponds to the Sephirah (sphere) Binah on the Tree of Life. Binah is the Great Mother, matrix of form, and the template of the manifested universe, whose limitation and form-giving power are the womb of creation. The word matter stems from the same root as matrix and mother. 

How might we recast the conjunction of Saturn and Pluto if we include the Eleusinian mysteries and alternate myths in the interpretative mix? If Pluto has an aspect of giving gifts mined from the deep parts of our psyches, how might we view his energy in a different light? And, if Pluto is seen not as the vile abductor of an innocent virgin, but rather as acting in concert with his wife Persephone, it’s possible to better understand the nature of cyclic loss and symbolic resurrection. 

If we consider Saturn as Demeter, something profound can be understood in the mythic encoding of the cycle of the year. Death does not triumph but is rather a change of state, offering a time of rest and renewal. A wise teacher once said, “All pain is caused by holding on.” Willingly letting go, we can gracefully surrender the forms that need to die, trusting the process of rebirth and reformation. 

Perspective is what matters. After the harvest we do not weep for the death of the wheat. Instead, we celebrate the abundance of crops and move with the cycle of the year until spring returns and it’s time to plant again. Likewise, if we have been good stewards of our symbolic fields, we can rejoice. If we have made poor choices we can learn from our mistakes and move on. If we embrace this wisdom we can face what has outgrown its time and be courageous enough to stop clinging to the past. Our openness will make room for new life, and we can make a fundamental course correction.  

However we choose to cast the characters in this morality play, the Saturn-Pluto conjunction offers a powerful time of reckoning. We must face the truth of structures of power that have become corrupt, and we can expect some chaos. Collectively we must clear the fields and winnow the wheat, making way for new structures for the next cycle. We should take care at the dawn of a new age what seeds we plant for the future.  

Adventure

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Me with two cobra friends at Kom Ombo, Egypt in 2012

“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.

Shambhala Prophecy – Return of the Spiritual Warriors

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Kalki, the last incarnation of Vishnu —  Image credit — Jose-Patricio Aguirre (Chile)

The Shambhala Prophecy

as told by Joanna Macy

“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

(Joanna Rogers Macy, is an environmental activist, author, scholar of Buddhism, general systems theory, and deep ecology. She is the author of eight books). I share this piece of her writing with the greatest of respect. It a Buddhist prophecy that calls us to “war.”

“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. 

 

 

 

 

 

Remembering Harriet

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“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.

 

 

A Gold Medal and a Writer’s Voice

COVR-gold-award-1-e1528674232366             Unknown-5

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.

Thank you.

Julie Loar

Frog Blog: A Jumpin’ Good Time in Frogtown USA

“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

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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.

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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.

http://www.julieloar.com

 

 

 

Trusting

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   “Trust in dreams, for in them is the hidden gate to eternity.”  

Khalil Gibran

An intrinsic wisdom lives inside a seed. The small miracle trusts that if planted in rich soil, watered by rain, and warmed by sunlight, the seed will break out of its shell, sprout, and grow according to its template of hidden potential. Perhaps that potential will yield a fragrant lily or a mighty oak. The seed doesn’t doubt its future, and it unfolds and grows according to an inherent destiny.

Perhaps it is only humans who fear what is contained within our potential. For many reasons we lack the will or heart to follow the path of our own becoming. We hold back, doubting our gifts and our deep longings. Maybe we define success in the wrong way, believing we need fame and fortune, rather than joy and fulfillment, as indicators that we’ve “made it.”

I have come to believe the key to the dilemma lies in our inability to perceive the nature of our unique and individual templates. Because we don’t really know ourselves, we don’t know the nature of our “seed self.”  Therefore, we can’t comprehend the vision of our expanded expression, and we remain blind to what is possible. Or, we try very hard to become a pine tree when we are meant to be a lilac.

A teacher of mine once shared a humorous anecdote to illustrate our reluctance. A caterpillar once gazed up at a butterfly and proclaimed, “You’ll never get me up in one of those things.”  And so, rejecting the metamorphosis of the cocoon, and the exquisite creature he could become, the caterpillar continued to crawl on the ground. Sadly, the caterpillar never tasted flight or grew glorious wings. That is a loss for all of us.

What does it take to reach out of our own element and sense of safety and trust? What can be gained by risking? Sometimes, after a risk, life is never the same. Maybe we experience a loss as a result, but we are deeper, wiser, and hopefully more compassionate. Maybe the risk brings great joy. Either way we learn what we’re made of by taking the leap and seeing where we land. It’s often been said to watch where we light up, know what excites us, and when we lose a sense of time when doing something we love. This knowledge is precious.

. . . take a chance today–it could change your life . . .

Julie

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