I returned late last night from the "Land of Enchantmen" in New Mexico where I continued my journey apprenticing with Elena Avila, a Curandera. There is still so much to process that I am not quite ready to put to words the powerful experiences I have encountered.
We were in Georgia O'Keefe land, Ghost Ranch, with breathtaking earthy red and orange vistas, stark and beckoning. The soul is very much at home there. The mind is allowed to rest.
I came back with a very keen sense that when the mind surrenders to the soul... there is a merging that ignites a divine spark... a creative spark that has it's own wisdom and that heals. I can not think of experiencing anything more creative.
Is that not what creation is all about?... surrender and merging, and with the grace of the divine... an emerging... re-newed. On this creative edge, I am left in silence and awe...
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I am enthralled by a new book! Having first heard the authors speak on New Dimensions Radio, their ideas drew me to their writing as they bring an unusual clarity and understanding of today's changing dynamics.
Sociologist Paul Ray and psychologist Sherry Ruth Anderson spent thirteen years surveying values and lifestyles in research for: "The Cultural Creatives. How 50 Million People Are Changing the World." Using values and beliefs, the authors identified three major subcultures in America: Traditionals, Moderns and Cultural Creatives. These three categories that also hold true in Europe, do not come from normal demographics of age, race, sex, religion, income, education, conservative or liberal. Rather, each group contains persons from every persuasion but tending to particular lifestyles based on deeply based values and beliefs.
Only Traditions and Moderns are currently recognized in our society as influential groups with the common polarity we tend to see ourselves—being conservative or liberal. Cultural Creatives cross this line. But, neither the society or Cultural Creatives themselves have recognized they are now a powerful new movement.
Moderns carry the main identity and thrust of mainstream society as half the population. They are who you read about or who follow the materialistic trends of the popular culture, particularly in large cities. They tend not to be altruistic, idealistic or self-actualizing. Rather they highly value success, especially financial, and are often cynical about politics.
Traditionalists are harder to define although they often contain members of the religious right. Representing one quarter of the population, they value traditional patriarchal relationships with strong emphasis on conservative family and religious values. They often feel they must defend against the intrusive modern world.
Cultural Creatives strongly feel actions must be consistent with words and beliefs. This authenticity is built on preferences coming from direct personal experience and intellectual ways of knowing. They like first hand personal exchanges and have a broad "big picture" view of life. They have a well developed social conscience and guarded optimism. They are not interested in "owning more stuff" and are critical of almost every large institution in modern society—corporate and governmental. Growing out of the sixties revolution influence with social and environmental action movements on one hand and personal consciousness raising efforts on the other, these people of all ages and backgrounds form the Cultural Creatives group.
I highly recommend reading this most intriguing work and about the people involved. You can check out their web site (www.culturalcreatives.org) and fill out a questionnaire to see if you too are a Cultural Creative.
Perhaps you feel as I do. There are subtle and not so subtle changes in the air as we start the new millennium. Many people feel as I do, it is possible to make the world a better place for all of us to live—a creative place to live in cooperative relationship!
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Wondering what aspect of creativity will unfold as my intention is set on this writing task, I floundered for days steeped in the possibility that I'll not be able to access my wellsprings. A few glimmers glint and a focus is found.
Rose pruning—a violent, courageous act—resembles losing a parent. The paring away takes some sharp cuts, a hardened attitude to the sacrifice, sometimes softened by the possibility that the cuttings will grow into new plants. Seasoned gardeners know that pruning stimulates the plant toward a new and glorious renewal. After a dormant time, a vibrant flourish of growth ensues.
This last year, with the loss of my father, I felt a paring away—a part of me was lost with his passing. I struggled and choked as he had in the end. Languishing and limping in the following months allowed a dormant time. Circling through the stages of grief, I navigated the bricks in my walls, finding myself crumbling, yet still connecting with new clarity through the ancient roots of dreams.
Early memories surfaced of my father wrenching me from my mother's arms and breasts—a weaning, a gleaning. That old wound now enlightens the final blow of his death.
I recall a more recent memory of my father, Ray, and I crying and clinging to each other at the airport, as we realized that this parting was taking us closer to an eminent separation. As I write this, tears come and emotions are fresh. The early childhood incident—the weaning and gleaning—has an understanding attached to it that offers peace from present grief. And that understanding spirals into further understandings.
My saps and spirits ebbed. Drawing on wisdom and wonder, hope and optimism,
I gained nourishment from the composting and rotting of the apathy, anger, and
angst of dying.
Amidst the flickers of resurgence in my energy, I'am inspired by a conviction
to be a good, wise, and creative person. New found peace and pleasure start to
swell like new buds on bare stems. Focusing on the present and finding the flow through my work at school, homemaking, gardening, and fashioning jewelry invites again the patient, persistent passion of my ancestors to find new life through these hands, this heart, and the "old ways."
Could it be that in that flow, we are channeling our ancestors? Or rendering our dreams—images in poetry?
Snake eyes flash fiery gold of cat's gaze.
Tamer's torture waits in wonder.
Waves are definitely my thunder—
I will do exactly as you!
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Barbara Rose Shuler:
"In the beginning was the word," says the Book of John. Another way of saying this might be: in the beginning was the vibratory frequency known, in human parlance, as sound. Recently, I have been reflecting on the creative power of sound, in particular the potential of human speech to change our experience within and without.
"Speech is the essence of humanity," it is said in the ancient and venerable Sanskrit Vedas. According to the Vedas everything comes into being through speech, even the creation of the visible universe. We exist through the agency of "the word," as John would put it, logos or sound. The Sanskrit language itself is thought to contain extraordinary creative sounds—known to those who study the science of mantra—that can dramatically affect our lives. In fact, many traditions consider mantra practice as essential for spiritual advancement and high attainment.
Among those who esteem mantra practice, are the Tibetan Buddhists whose language closely resembles Sanskrit. A year ago last August, I experienced first hand the potent impact of this kind of sound when I attended, at the recommendation of a friend, a two-week long Kalachakra ceremony guided by the Dalai Lama himself. Day after day during this special ritual, the spiritual and secular leader of Tibet, along with many Buddhist monks, chanted a special cycle of mantras before a gathering of 5000 people in a large tent just outside of Bloomington, Indiana.
The sounds were strange, exotic, hypnotic and deep, and incredibly moving. As the days progressed, the chanting of the monks seemed to intensify. One morning, in particular, stands out in my memory.
During the Kalachakra event, the monks must consecrate the land where the ceremony is taking place. On the final morning of this consecration period, the chanting began as usual. Outside the blue skies began to cloud up a little, then darken. After a time, it began to sprinkle ever so slightly, the raindrops tickling the fabric of the great tent.
As the monks continued chanting, the rain became stronger. Then it began to pound until a monsoon-like downpour raged overhead. Suddenly, loud thunderclaps, accompanied by bright flashes of lightening, swirled around the tent almost downing out the chanting, which progressed unabated and serene. In time, the rainstorm tapered off ending just as the chanting stopped. The 5000 attendees filed out of the tent onto grateful wet earth for a short break under clearing skies.
Indiana had been suffering a serious drought—no rain for many months. The consecration of the land was over. So was the drought.
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CREATIVITY: "The Practical Side of Infinity"
Between the parenthesis of birth and death, I've chosen the spoken word and the paintbrush as my favored tools for carving the finite from Infinity. Immediately as I typed this, personal demons of fear and doubt rose up accusing me of pomposity and inflated verbiage. And so it goes, this old familiar high-wire balancing act: suspended between the pylons of a trusting heart and a savvy social intellect, I waken to discover that I'm naked and leaping boldly into formless space in front of "YOU," a sophisticated readership of more than 1400 creative Souls... Well, so be it.
Grounded, I cage my demons together with my ego, and begin to map my studio journey from outer to within...
First: the walking in circles, then fussing with the tools. Next the rearranging of irrelevant accessories: tea? coffee? water? Shoes on or off? And, if the launch still feels inhibited—candles? incense? wine? Meanwhile, the REAL test of commitment remains: phone = OFF.
I remind me of Shadow, our beloved German Shepherd, as she circled herself round and round into just the right space before coming to rest, finally secure in her Grace.
What comes next I cannot map, for it's never the same. Knowingly or not, by my choices of what to simplify... what to emphasize... and by my ignorance of how I distort... I begin carving the finite from the Infinite.
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