Thursday, January 21, 2016

Wading Through the Spiritlands

At the thresh hold 
twixt water and sand
These Teachers
sing their Wisdom
whether solitary watchmen
shrewdly observant for opportunity,
co-operative family unit,
or great migrating band

“Through rushing waters or rocky shores, 
We carefully wend our way. 
Spear at the ready, 
We gather bright schools of Wisdom 
as we dance in the river’s bright spray.

Spirit, insight, and tranquility in blue
Peace is a road that begins in each of you! 
Diversity embraced is an asset sublime, 
though awkward in youth, 
you’ll bloom like the heavenly lotus given time!

We will teach you how to stand alone 
despite turbulent waters or society’s moan, 
and when to foster unity. 
For independence coupled 
with loving co-operation is my lesson 
on how to create a harmonious community.

Fortune, focus, and long life are blessings taught 
by my cousin, serene, 
in carefully folded alabaster wrought. 
Flowing with your own rhythm, 
bold exploration, fluid grace, 
dignity, and balance are my gifts to you. 
You need only diligently study and pursue!"

For those new to the game, each poem is inspired by a Teacher found in Nature; a star, stone, animal, plant etc that holds lessons of Wisdom for us. Can you guess who is singing today? 

“Imagination was given to man to compensate him for what he is not; a sense of humor to console him for what he is.” ~ Sir Francis Bacon “To be idle is a short road to death and to be diligent is a way of life; foolish people are idle, wise people are diligent.” Buddha

“An outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace.” Book of Common Prayer

“When despair for the world grows in me, and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be – I go and lie down where the wood drake rest in his beauty on the water and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought or grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.” ~Wendell Berry

The Great Blue Heron is one of the most common of the wading birds found across the U.S. They live for about 15 years in the wild, and other than during mating and nesting times, herons live very solitary lives. The Great Blue stands anywhere from just over three feet high to around four and a half feet tall. Wingspans are 5 and a half to 6 and a half feet wide, but for all their lanky size, they weigh only between four and seven pounds! Females produce two to seven eggs which both parents will incubate and protect. This reclusive wader nests in colonies, preferring to hide their nests in tall trees or low shrubs.

There are 64 species within the Family Ardeidae, including Great Blue and the Great White Heron, which is actually an all white color morph of the same species found exclusively in the Caribbean and southern Florida. Various herons, bitterns, and egrets comprise this taxonomic Family, although there continues to be a great deal of debate over who does or does not belongs to the Ardeidae family officially. While the various Herons resemble Cranes a great deal and vise versa, actually Cranes belong to both a different Family (Gruidae) and a different Order (Gruiform). 

In this article, I will stick predominantly to the Great Blue, but would like to include some general information on the Crane to contrast. Cranes share a lot of lessons with Herons, and both have been important Creature Teachers to many cultures. White Cranes, mentioned as “Cousins” in the poem here, were in my mind as I wrote in the form of origami cranes. Origami was a favorite hobby of mine for awhile as a young girl, it taught me a great deal about patience, diligence, the value of silence and gentleness. Origami is lovely therapy for anyone called by these Teachers. 

Whatever their coloring though in life, the easiest way to tell a Heron from a Crane is in flight. A heron carries their neck in an S-shaped curve, resting their head just between their shoulders during flight. A crane flies with their neck fully extended. 

Crane has been a symbol of Justice, Longevity, Fortune and Focus in China for countless years. This Teacher says that it is best to not divide our attention, and emphasizes the importance of focusing our time, energy, and skills on one important task at a time. A parent who carries Crane totem, for example, will be most effective in their duties, and happier in themselves, if they don’t try to juggle their family and career at the same time. Both Crane and Heron are excellent Teachers to turn to when looking for Balance in any situation. 

“Always accept good fortune with grace and humility. " Mark L. Mika

“Meditation brings wisdom; lack of meditation leaves ignorance. Know well what leads you forward and what hold you back, and choose the path that leads to wisdom.”

“Meditate. Live purely. Be quiet. Do your work with mastery. Like the moon, come out from behind the clouds! Shine.” Buddha

Blue herons feed upon creatures like: fish, small amphibians like frogs and newts, aquatic invertebrates, various insects, and plants that grow in marshes and swamps, reptiles like snakes, and small mammals like the voles which make up so much of the Great Blue Heron’s diet. Whooping Cranes, for another example, concentrate their diet upon blue crabs. And, both cranes and herons are preyed upon by wild canines like foxes, minks, raptors like hawks, bobcats, and even the elemental force of Winter. As waders, they are the type of bird that best represents a harmonious blending between Air, Earth, and Water. Any of these Teachers, from Fish to Winter, make excellent balancing energy for those called by these graceful birds, and should be examined by those who feel called by these Teachers.

Longevity is a key concept that has been attributed to these Teachers for many lifetimes. To the Japanese and Chinese, the Crane carries a sacred fairy, an elemental being, into our mortal world upon his back. This wise creature Teacher is a symbol of sagacity, grace, fortune, and longevity; a favored  theme for many paintings and works of art across the Oriental nations. In some Native Traditions, the oldest and wisest sages who passed on to the other side have a habit of returning to this world in the form of a heron.
“A man ninety years old was asked to what he attributed his longevity. “I reckon,” he said with a twinkle in his eye, “it was because most nights I went to bed and slept when I should have sat up and worried.” Garson Kanin

“Just as a candle cannot burn without fire, men cannot live without a spiritual life.” Buddha

“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope  that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say,
“I used everything you gave me.” Erma Bombeck

Aggression is not the same as Courage. Boldness is not the same as Confidence. Although either can be divided by a thin line. Too much or little of these qualities will indicate an imbalance, and it is up to each of us to determine how much is too much. A great deal of Life is like an intricate balancing act and these Teachers approach it as a divine and sacred dance. Blue Heron, as the King of the Marshlands and one of the tallest birds on land, indicates a mastery of certain qualities. Blue is the color of tranquility, thought, dreams, spirit, and serenity. This royal bird with his black, white, and blue crown reinforces the concept of ruling through Wisdom, Divinity, Thought, and Peace.“ As the Fletcher whittles and makes straight his arrows, so the master directs his straying thoughts.”

“To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one’s family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one’s own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him.” Buddha

Focus is a keyword for those called by the Great Blue Heron, and such people actually excel at seeing the opportunity amidst the shifting sands. I have watched the Blue Herons every Spring… griping the sturdy earth, moving steadily through the rushing waters, as they diligently hunt for sustenance. Blue Heron people exemplify or strive for a balance between cooperatively social, and confidently independent. Such people have a keen instinct for what will or won’t work for them, and are often mistaken for flighty or irresponsible individuals which is quite often untrue! A “jack of all trades”, they are adaptable, and are not at all impressed with status symbols, keeping up with the Joneses, or accumulating things.

The Great Blue carries a strong, courageous medicine that indicates strong will and character. Blue Heron people are comfortable within themselves, given to deep self-explorations, and they benefit by taking moments of stillness, contemplation, and meditative reflection, much like the Heron pausing amidst the rush of water and flash of sunlight. Well Balanced Blue Heron people are keeping their eyes on the most important things in life, and are excellent Teachers to turn to if you are feeling afraid to take over your life, or out of balanced.

Like other waders, their ability to traverse turbulent waters indicates a need to maintain a balanced emotional nature; keeping their passionate thoughts and feelings under a reasonable control. Be ware aggression. The graceful S curve of their necks at rest, even in flight, indicates a vital need to find our personal rhythm, respond, and flow with it. Herons live solitary lives excepting during nesting times. Then, a great deal of co-operative community effort is practiced. 

Silent and solitary, this bird becomes highly social at this time, collecting nest materials, constructing their nests near each other in large colonies, and then rearing their young. Herons are able to care for themselves after a matter of months, so this time of societal co-operation and sociability doesn’t last long. Aggression is a particular issue for those called by this Teacher, but we should always be aware when we are getting carried away in the pursuit of our goals and acting too aggressively. 

Herons are sacred to Poseidon, and Athena often used these “spear-carriers” as messengers. Emblems of Atlantis, these birds are considered a good omen by many cultures. Heron and Crow depicted together in China or Japan indicates sacred Yinyang energy. Contemplative, vigilant, herons depicted with white stones in their beaks symbolize discretion, and the wisdom obtained through periods of silence.

In Hindu tradition, the goddess Tamra was the ancestor of all birds, and all cultures have viewed birds as divine messengers since time immemorial. Tamra can help us learn the language of birds, and as the consort of the Turtle god, Kashyapa, she often represents a marriage between earth, water and air elements; much like the cranes that could represent this goddess. Another near relation, the Sacred Ibis, is associated with the Egyptian god Thoth, a god of learning and truth. That Teacher is also closely associated with the Baobab tree, and also considered sacred to Isis, the powerful mother goddess of Egypt.

Fujian White Crane, Tibetan White Crane and Persatuan Gerak Badan are three distinct fighting styles in martial arts which were designed after the movements of this family of Teachers. In Native Traditions, the Heron teaches us self-reliance, determination, an ability to progress and evolve. Blue is the color linked with the Throat Chakra.

Some of the challenges of this chakra, which governs our will, are to express ourselves in the most truthful manner possible, to be receptive to and assimilate information, and always to seek the truth. Learning to take responsibility for one’s needs, surrendering personal will to divine will, the value of truthfulness over deceit, and lessons on faith are all Throat Chakra lessons also carried by the Blue Heron. Whether we have already mastered these lessons, or are moving through them is entirely an individual circumstance. How do these versatile and ancient Teachers appear in your life?

“Cranes carry this heavy mystical baggage. They’re icons of fidelity and happiness. The Vietnamese believe cranes cart our souls up to heaven on their wings.” Mitchell Burgess

“The ancient practice of a man and woman folding 1,000 cranes for their wedding is called sembazuru. The tradition itself is called Tsuru wa sennen. The time and energy put into the hand-folded cranes symbolized the patience and trust necessary to sustain a happy marriage.” ~ Lisa Shea,
Japanese tradition says that he who folds a 1000 cranes will be granted a wish.

“When you are in doubt, be still, and wait;

when doubt no longer exists for you, then go forward with courage.
So long as mists envelop you, be still;
be still until the sunlight pours through and dispels the mists
— as it surely will. Then act with courage.” ~Ponca Chief White Eagle (1800’s to 1914)

Keywords: Patience, Balance, Confidence, Serenity/Tranquility/Calmness, Versatility, Being Present, Vigilance, Independence, Resourcefulness, Determination, Self-esteem, Dignity, Multi-tasking, Spiritworld, Trailblazing, Renewal/Transformation

Associated with: Life Force, Divine Messages, the Holy Spear, Archer/Spear energy, Good Fortune/Omen, the Phoenix, Athena/Minerva, Tamra, God of War-Lord of the South-The Young Warrior-Lord of the Day- The Blue Tezcatliopoca of the South - Patron God of the Mexica (aka  "The Blue Heron Bird", "The Lucid Macaw"), Ra
Potential Balancers: fish like trout or koi, water, earth, air, reptiles like snakes or lizards, amphibians like frogs and toads, small mammals like young rabbits, rodents, chipmunks, insects like dragonfly or moth, other birds like eagles or ducks, plants like marsh grasses, reeds, algae, mushrooms, willows or cypress trees 

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Awakening Spring

The Winds laugh as they rush off
in their whirling waltz over the distant hills.
The Trees confer in rustling whispers
before everything stills…
A soft sweet tune,
the fierce and splendid
humming of the Sun,
Casts it’s own perfumed rays
to soothe sore hearts…
Joy waits for no season!
Open your heart
Love is not bound
by Time
nor Death
nor Reason
Beauty awaits you
at every turn
Hover a moment
and savor
Drink deeply of Life!
Leave only bitter dregs behind
for they are the least
of all earthly
Feed upon the
sweet heart
of each moment
All Life is magic
Beauty is Truth
and War itself
crumbles before
Loving commitment

I am the Gentle Warrior
of Great Spirit.
So fine, swift, and cunning
was I made that
I might thread a needle with my song
Stitch this message upon your heart …
Thrive upon the surety
that Courage
Clarity and
are Miracles
unbound by humble mortal form
The only limits
are the ones we create with our Belief
Believe the Miraculous,
and the World
will be Reborn!”

“If you were all alone in the universe with no one to talk to, no one with which to share the beauty of the stars, to laugh with, to touch, what would be your purpose in life? It is other life, it is love, which gives your life meaning. This is harmony. We must discover the joy of each other, the joy of challenge, the joy of growth.” Mitsugi Saotome

“We find greatest joy, not in getting, but in expressing what we are… Men do not really live for honors or for pay; their gladness is not the taking and holding, but in Doing… the striving, the building, the living. It is a higher joy to teach than to be taught. It is good to get justice, but better to do it; fun to have things but more to make them. The happy man is he who lives the life of love, not for the honors it may bring, but for the Life itself.” R. J. Baughan

“The happiness and unhappiness of the rational, social animal depends not on what he feels but on what he does; just as his virtue and vice consist not in feeling but in doing. Marcus Aurelius

The magical and delicate hummingbird delivers us a powerful message’ “Great things come in small packages”. Hummingbird, to me, is like a messenger straight from Creator’s Heart. A miracle in motion, He reminds us of the active principle of Love, and that it is a way of Life. He shows us how to slip past all the thorns, blandness, and other barriers to simply sip on the sweet nectar of Life; live for the sake of loving and love for the sake of living. Hummingbird is like pure Joy, given wings and color, a visual reminder of the many miracles of Life… Love, Joy and Creator’s Divine Love for us, much like the symbol of the Sacred Heart. 

Hummingbird wants teach us the language of Flowers, and how they can help us learn how to heal, create, and spread the tiny seeds of Love that will make a Garden of our World. Maybe this is why Hummingbird’s are also considered “lucky”? Hummingbirds are found naturally only in the Americas, and there are between 325 – 340 species of hummingbirds. Because they are delicate in structure, their hollow-boned wings especially fragile, hummingbirds rarely fossilize, and their mysterious evolutionary history has made study difficult. 

Some scientists believe that the hummingbird evolved relatively recently, and others theorize that they originated in South America. Brazil and Ecuador contain over half the known species of hummingbirds! The Ruby Throated Hummingbird is probably the one I am most familiar with, and this will be the model I use in discussing them.
An ancestor of modern hummingbirds may also have lived in parts of Europe to what is now southern Russia. Magical, mystical Hummingbird is a rare treat! Hummingbird flight also continues to be the subject of much study. Other than insects, the Hummingbird is the only Creature Teacher I can think of who has the ability to sustain a hover and fly deliberately in any direction, including backwards or vertically. Hummingbirds also have the highest metabolism of all animals, with the exception of insects. Maneuverability is a Hummingbird lesson, and an excellent Teacher to turn to if we have need of this skill.
Hummingbirds typically consume more than their own weight in food each day by traveling hundreds of times to multiple flowers, and at any given moment they are only hours away from starving! They need this incredible metabolism to support the rapid beating of their wings and a heartbeat which can reach as high as 1,260 beats per minute. Provided sufficient food and shelter is available to them, hummingbirds are amazingly hardy. They are able to tolerate temperatures down to at least -20°C (-4°F), and can also enter a hibernation-like state known as torpor, slowing down their voracious metabolism at night or any other time food is not readily available. This is where their symbolic connection to Resurrection and Rebirth comes from.
“We could never learn to be brave and patient if there were only joy in the world.” Helen Keller
“The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven? " Kahlil Gibran
“Happiness is good health and a bad memory.” Ingrid Bergman
Love appears in many forms, and it is certainly not without it’s sorrows. Contrary to opinion, love, real love, is never blind. If anything, Love endures because it knows full well what it sees and chooses to thrive anyway. Love throws itself onto the Winds, freely and with faith, again and again. It waxes and wanes as much as our hearts can hold; stoking itself through the cold nights and rising from the ashes to grow larger than before whenever we feed it. Love is in constant motion until we pause long enough to take notice, yet it can consume us in a thousand ways. It takes tremendous energy and Courage to truly Love… and not just to love one being, not just ourselves or our blood kin, but to love All Our Relations.
Hummingbird people need fill their Life’s cup with Love quickly and often to sustain themselves, and their ability to spread and generate similar energies around them helps to keep their cup overflowing. If we don’t love ourselves and forgive ourselves for our mistakes, we’ll quickly run out of the ability to love or forgive others. Of course, focusing only on our selves will cause us to starve just as quickly as a hummingbird sipping from a man-made feeder which has been mistakenly filled with a nectar made from diet sugar substitute rather than plain water and sugar. So be ‘ware the Love with which you feed yourself and others! Take the time to sip the sweetness of life for yourself, and do something that makes you feel renewed. Love is the one thing you do have more of the more you give though. Tiny Hummingbird reminds us that Love is truly a Miracle, a sacred and divine thing. Miracles do not have boundaries or limits. “Small of stature but great of heart”, Hummingbird’s great love for Creator and Life reaches far beyond his tiny body and brilliant feathers….
“You must love the crust of the earth on which you dwell more than the sweet crust of any bread or cake.” Henry David Thoreau
“The sun does not shine for a few trees and flowers, but for the wide world’s joy.” Henry Ward Beecher
“Love denied blights the soul we owe to God.” William Shakespeare
Hummingbirds are intricately entwined with their environment. Dramatic changes in their environment will be immediately reflected in their response to these changes. Perhaps this is why hummingbird people’s loving nature extends to a great concern with their environment. Hummingbirds in balance like to go to the heart of any matter and extract all that is beneficial. They prefer to focus on what is as opposed to what was, although they carry all that they learn forward with them.
Unfortunately, a common interaction between people and hummingbirds is having one become trapped in your garage or similarly open area. Whatever may have drawn them into such an area, once inside, they may be unable to escape. Their natural instinct when threatened or trapped is to fly upward. This is a life-threatening situation for the bird as they will become exhausted and die in a relatively short period (as little as an hour!) of time due to their high metabolisms. If you should encounter this problem, simply get within reach of the hummingbird and gently catch them with your hands.
They will lie quietly within your cupped hands until released…such is the Faith of a hummingbird. Hummingbird people should likewise keep their heads about them when they feel trapped or panicky, but I think a most common failure for such people is simply throwing themselves at any issue over and over again in the same manner until they wear themselves out. Or worst of all, simply not providing themselves with all that they need to continue being well-balanced Hummingbird people!

“And because I am happy and dance and sing, They think they have done me no injury.” William Blake
I have seen many people make the mistake of thinking that just because someone is happy, they have never experienced tragedy, depression, poverty, or a thousand other ills. Worse yet, I have seen people every day who mistake such kindness, generosity, politeness and basic happiness that causes others to perceive a Hummingbird person as an “easy mark”, stupid, or weak! Balanced Hummingbird people do live their lives in a manner designed to “accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative”, but that doesn’t mean that they have never experienced tragedy, anger, fear, or any of the less attractive emotions. Nor does it mean that they are stupid, foolish or easy prey!
They will direct a great deal of energy into spreading positive constructive messages, goodwill, love, laughter, and happiness in any way that they can. They need it to survive, so why wouldn’t they want to spread more of it around? Hummingbird’s constant visits to hundreds of flowers make him a friend to Gardeners and Gardens alike as he helps to spread pollen. Hummingbird people are happiest when they are spreading the healing balm of Love and Harmony like pollen. Don’t know where to start? Smile! Even if you are in the depths of depression, acting as if you were happy will encourage actual happiness to grow.
“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” Thich Nhat Hanh
“People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they’re not on your road doesn’t mean they’ve gotten lost.” H. Jackson Browne
“Love is an act of endless forgiveness, a tender look which becomes a habit.” Peter Ustinov
Unbalanced Hummingbirds might fly off in any direction. Perhaps they would love too much, too often, too erratically or even spread disharmony and strife instead of love and harmony! Perhaps they may become dictatorial about others’ happiness. Assuming that since they are happy, they know best someone else’s route to happiness would be. Easy mistakes to make, and each could easily lead one to all flavors of Hell. I’ve certainly met plenty of people who think they know best how others should be living!
Can’t say this has ever made things easy for anyone though. Remember, we are only responsible for our selves; our choices and actions. Interfering with another’s Life and how they choose to walk it would be like getting between them and their Creator! I wouldn’t want to stand there, would you?!
Stop and really think about what you are doing before you plunge in headfirst. It’s great to have the will and desire to direct your energies into spreading positive constructive concepts, but sometimes it is best to allow others to move at their own pace. Sometimes a healing soul needs quiet, solitude, or just room to breathe. Sometimes our “helping” simply makes others feel smothered or criticized instead of better. Invite this Gentle Warrior into your life whenever you feel the need, or when you need guidance on how best to help others!

Ruby-throated hummingbirds are inquisitive creatures, and the males can be quite aggressively territorial. Even the females will defend a good food supply, tolerating their own young at the feeder for only a brief period after fledging before they are treated like any other rival. They quickly overcome shyness of humans though, and will hover around you to investigate if you were a bold red color, which is attractive to them. Courtship, if any, is brief and the female raises the young alone. Her walnut sized nest is built on a foundation of bud scales that it attached to a tree limb with spider silk. The outside is camouflaged with lichen or moss and the inside is lined with dandelion, cattail or thistle down. Two white pea-sized eggs will be laid which will take 12-16 days to incubate, and another, typically, 18-23 days to raise them to fledgling status. It is thought that this hummingbird might live up to 12 years, but only 3-5 years is common with all the stresses and predations they face.
Most hummingbirds are noted for their dazzling colors. The Ruby-throated hummingbird’s body is covered in brilliant emerald green feathers on top, silvery gray verging on white underneath, with the distinctive ruby red throat patch that gave it it’s name. Red is the traditional color for passion, creation and creativity, the element of fire, anger and love. Sky blue is the color for balancing the throat chakra, so this placement of brilliant red adds a sense of crackling energy, heat, and passion to this area. People called by this Teacher should be especially mindful of their vocal expressions, as their ability to express through voice is highly charged and capable of inspiring great fires in others.
Choose to express only Truth, for voicing lies will throw you significantly out of balance as this chakra is the center for our sense of Truth. The vibrant green of this Teacher indicates a vibrant ability to heal, to inspire hope, and to spread feelings of faith, friendship, and peace. Silver it the traditional color of the soul, and white is both a Divine blessing and a purifying agent. Altogether, this tiny Teacher packs a potent punch! Hummingbird asks us to not only appreciate the Beauty around us, nor to express it, but to “walk in Beauty”, to live our lives in such a way that day to day we are spreading Beauty, Light and Joy.
Well-balanced Hummingbird people tend to live in the now without dwelling on the past or worrying unduly about the future. They are talented at finding the beauty hidden in any person or situation, but must remember that although they see the Beauty and Potential, they must also acknowledge the less appealing or constructive aspects to those people or situations… or they may end up consumed by that which they have not acknowledged! Put simply, don’t believe just the good that you see in someone. Just because you see the goodness or beauty buried within, doesn’t mean that is what truly motivates them! Balanced Hummingbird people take a great deal of pleasure in spreading Joy, Beauty and Light into the cramped dark places in Life, but this also makes them tasty targets to the more predatory souls out there. So, be careful with the Light you have been given.

“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” His Holiness the Dalai Lama
“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” Confucius
Adaptability & malleability are strengths given by this delicate Teacher, and such people tend to be high-energy, free-spirited individuals. Restricting the nature of such a person will most likely result in deep depression and feelings of hopelessness, both strong signs of unbalanced Hummingbird energy. Pointless activity, anxiety, pessimism, inability to let go of the past or inordinate concern over the future are all signs of unbalanced Hummingbird energy.
In Aztec mythology, Huitzilopochtli, whose name means “Blue Hummingbird on the Left (South)”, was the god of war, death and the sun. He was depicted as an armed blue man wearing a headdress of hummingbird feathers, and was highly revered. The flower loving goddess, Xochiquetzal, could also be associated with this Teacher.
Look at pictures, or read about the nature and habitats of hummingbirds. If you wish to hang a feeder be sure to provide the proper type of food. Perhaps my favorite way is simply looking for ways each day to make a positive difference in some ones life. Little acts of kindness, or small tokens to coax smiles out of those you interact with can make a huge difference to the World around you. Share a joke, leave smiles or encouraging words on post- its where others can see them. Wash off the windshields while your spouse pumps the gas. Help an elderly neighbor by shoveling the snow from their walkway or help a stranger who is struggling with their groceries.
Once you start looking, you’ll find as many ways to spread Hummingbird’s “pay it forward” attitude as there are flowers in a garden! I was thrilled when someone put up a sign on a telephone pole at a busy intersection that says simply “You Are Beautiful”. I picture the Hummingbird as a tiny Grandmother whose bravery and bold words far exceed her delicate frame. The Taino, indigenous people of the Caribbean & Florida, see this Teacher as the sacred bringer of life and a symbol of rebirth. They call their warriors Hummingbird Warriors, as this Teacher is a spreader of peace and life, but will defend it’s home with the fierceness of an Eagle. Whenever we need to get to the heart of any issue, Hummingbird can show us how to delicately part all resistance and achieve our goal. May your heart open like a faerie rose before the loving sword of Hummingbird whenever he hovers into your life! How does this Teacher appear in your life?
“A warrior does not give up what he loves, he finds the love in what he does.“ Socrates, in the trailer for Peaceful Warrior
Happiness is..
by Priscilla Leonard
HAPPINESS is like a crystal,
Fair and exquisite and clear,
Broken in a million pieces,
Shattered, scattered far and near.
Now and then along life’s pathway,
Lo! some shining fragments fall;
But there are so many pieces
No one ever finds them all.
You may find a bit of beauty,
Or an honest share of wealth,
While another just beside you
Gathers honor, love or health.
Vain to choose or grasp unduly,
Broken is the perfect ball;
And there are so many pieces
No one ever finds them all.
Yet the wise as on they journey
Treasure every fragment clear,
Fit them as they may together,
Imaging the shattered sphere,
Learning ever to be thankful,
Though their share of it is small;
For it has so many pieces
No one ever finds them all!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Sacred Circumvolution

Our ancient family appeared 
during the first great explosion of diversity,
as the Oceans drew their first breath.
Yet the salt within every tear 
most often brings us only death.
Hard without, tender within
we crawl across the moonlit lands
quietly singing Wisdom.

Is it time to withdraw, 
or come out of our shells?
Spiraling from double helix to galaxies,
Inward or Outward
like the shell of your ear;
although I may not hear you;
I see you 
And can easily scent 
that which feeds me best.
Grasping firmly with my tongue
before I feast 
upon my chosen vegetation.

Be Aware
Be Patient
Be Humble

Persistence without haste
may be perceived by some as sloth.
bravery does not require a spine.
Time is relative
Life moves at its own pace
Slooow Dooown
and the World will spread out 
its possibilities for your perusal.

Perfectly poised 
twixt trust and self-preservation
Creating Sacred Space
for the Spirits that protect us.
We teach that there is a time for all things.
Allow them to unfold
Explore their textures
Go with the flow
Dance until the rains begin
Best foot forward, 
sliding along my glistening trail
will reduce friction
helping to ease the way
allowing you to defy gravity
while protecting you from life’s rougher edges.

Stronger than appearance suggests
Self-Reliant and steadily progressing. 
We can help you balance duality,
becoming either Mother or Father at will.
We need both to leave each other fecund,
carrying the future forward.

We show you 
how to pay attention to the small details,
the importance of staying properly hydrated, 
or how to safely seal your threshold
in times of trouble, as needed.
Will you read our history or future 
from the patterns found upon our carapace? 
Expand your consciousness, my dears,
but stay grounded
Because no matter where you go
there you are
taking your home with you,
building as you grow.

For those new to the game, each poem is inspired by a Teacher found in Nature; a star, stone, animal, plant etc that holds lessons of Wisdom for those that listen. Can you guess who is singing today? Congrats to Barbara Horter, Cat, Alan, and Jaguarwombyn for naming this Teacher!

"Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished." ~Lao Tzu

"Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish."  ~John Quincy Adams

“Sometimes I think there are only two instructions we need to follow to develop and deepen our spiritual life: slow down and let go.” 
― Oriah Mountain Dreamer, The Dance: Moving To the Rhythms of Your True Self

“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” 
― BrenĂ© Brown

There are 1000s of species in the large Gastropod family found all around the world. They are typically sorted into these categories: "land" snails that respire with lungs belong to the Pulmonata Order, "sea snails" which respire with gills, "freshwater snails" some with gills - some with lungs, and shell-less Slugs. For our purposes here, the common Garden Snail was the specific Teacher I had in mind while writing as well as land snails in general. Although, the line between "land" and "freshwater" can be quite narrow at times with many species being equally at home in either medium. Snails are hermaphrodites, having both male and female reproductive parts, but still need a partner before they can procreate. Self-conception is possible but far less certain than with a partner. Both will lay eggs after a successful mating.  

Snails can live anywhere from 2 to 25 years depending on species and circumstance. Some hibernate through bad weather (cold or drought). Some are tiny. The largest recorded snail, a Giant African Land snail, was 12 inches long and weighed about 2 pounds. If asked to list things that are slow, snails would surely make your list. They are one of the slowest species in the world! 

Snails have one large muscular foot which allows them to crawl. The mucus they secrete reduces friction as well as allowing them to climb vertical surfaces, slopes of any angle, even creating enough suction that they can travel upside down. They can whip their mucus into a defensive froth, and can even traverse sharp surfaces like pine needles. Garden Snails reach speeds of 50 yards per hour, approximately 1.3 cm per second. Slow but steady is a major Snail lesson, a good mantra for people called by this Teacher. 

"The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is that one comes from a strong will, and the other from a strong won't."~Henry Ward Beecher

"Don't let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use." ~Earl Nightingale

At the very least, Snail advises, slow down! If we are constantly rushing from one task to the next, we aren't really living, this Teacher says. Now is the most important time in our life. Yesterday is but a dream, tomorrow a vague wish. Now is the only time with any real significance; the place where we do the majority of our living, growing, healing and learning. Stop worrying about tomorrow or regretting yesterday's choices. Stop telling yourself that you will "be happy when..." Enjoy now. 

Snail asks us all to slow down and pay attention. Take some time and live it with no plan at all. No destination, no deadlines, no alarms set, no distractions and no goals. See what it feels like to just breathe and listen to that quiet voice we all have whispering within us. Eat, sleep, wander, play as the whims of your being tell you. You might just surprise yourself with what you discover.

I see people angry on the roads acting like getting to the next red light first is the only goal of importance. People excuse themselves of all sorts of wrong doing and rudeness simply because they are "in a hurry". In the time I've spent working as a cashier, I have had people yell viciously at me for "wasting their time". How? By telling the customer in line ahead of them a joke while I processed their transaction. I don't know their story, but I hear their pain when they yell like that for such a flimsy reason. Very little in life requires such urgency, and only rarely while standing in a line at a store. Excusing your own poor choices and behavior because you are in a hurry is selfish and arrogant. Snail says this is neither humble, kind, respectful nor wise. The kind of energy you put out into the World will return to you, usually when you least expect it. It gains in size, strength and momentum as it travels too. 

Who really wants to be smacked in the face unexpectedly by a big ball of anger, humiliation, disrespect and impatience? No one ever made themselves great, or even feel a little bit better, by making others feel less in any way. Snail, being a bridging energy between the elements of Water and Earth, can help us traverse difficult terrain in life as well as giving us a solid leg to stand on when the emotional waters run high. 

Patience, just like Respect, is a key lesson from this Teacher that begins within with Self and spreads outward to the World around us. Slowing down is the first step to true observation of self or surroundings, the first step towards Awakening. All spiritual growth begins with these concepts. Snail advises us to let go of unrealistic expectations, the frantic feelings deadlines inspire, and old ways that no longer serve who we are or who we are attempting to become.   

'The spiral in a snail's shell is the same mathematically as the spiral in the Milky Way galaxy, and it's also the same mathematically as the spirals in our DNA. It's the same ratio that you'll find in very basic music that transcends cultures all over the world." ~ Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Growth is a spiral process, doubling back on itself, reassessing and regrouping.
Julia Margaret Cameron

“The path isn't a straight line; it’s a spiral. You continually come back to things you thought you understood and see deeper truths.” ~ Barry H. Gillespie

Garden snails sport yellow and brown spiral shells that help to protect them from predators like birds, insects, frogs, small mammals.Their shells are made of calcium carbonate. Brown symbolizes earth, nature, being grounded. Yellow symbolizes thought, new beginnings. Home is not a fixed place, it is the shelter and love we take with us wherever we go. Snails are born with a tiny bit of shell that grows with them throughout their lives, spiraling outward with the passing of time. The Snail's ability to withdraw inside its shell for safety indicates lessons on Trust, typically of Others rather than Self but a healthy sense of Trust flows both ways. 

Protection, a need for withdrawal /solitude or hibernation, Patience/allowing time for fruition are also symbolized. Ultimately though, Snail's biggest lesson for us is to find a proper balance between Protection and Trust. Sometimes you have to put yourself out there, risk being vulnerable, to achieve your goals. Knowing when to withdraw behind your protective walls and when to allow yourself to be completely exposed is a delicate balancing act we all experience throughout our lives. Snail can help us understand the need for, strengths and timing of each state.  

The Sacred Spiral on Snail's back can symbolize the cycle of life death and rebirth, expanding consciousness, going within, natural cycles like lunar phases or the seasons, release/surrender, the interconnectedness of life, or simply progress. Snail's message here is that the Sacred, Nature, Life are our truest homes, greatest protection, and we are a much a part of the whole as it is a part of us. Giving ourselves the time and space to live in harmony with natural cycles is tremendously difficult in today's demanding distracting society. The rewards of making space for this in our lives are well worth our effort though! Not only do we as individuals benefit, the whole World is made a little better for each effort.

Snail asks us to continue progressing slowly but steadily. No rush! Engaging ourselves in inner journeys, contemplation, and the natural cycles around us helps us to not only stay grounded, well balanced and better able to make good decisions, but also to strengthen our connection to the Sacred around us, to attune ourselves to a higher spiritual vibration, develop our intuition/our faith in the Divine and Self as well as our connection to All Our Relations, the sacred World around us. The lessons of the Sacred Spiral can be found over and over again in life, from the golden ratio at the heart of a sunflower to the cochlea of our own ears and the double spiral of our DNA  to the uncontrolled power of a tornado or the wonder of a distant galaxy. A subtle reminder that Beauty and natural Wisdom can be found wherever we might look.

Snails have no ears, but can sense vibration quite well. "You don't have to hear the music to feel the beat", this Teacher laughs. Listening, true listening, isn't simply waiting for your turn to respond. Snail emphasizes the importance of Listening to learn either about Self or about Life teeming all around us. Snails rely more on their sensitive tactile nature than their poor vision. The two lower stalks beneath their eye stalks process sounds, smells, proximity and textures. They can retract any of these stalks in times of danger and even re-grow them if damaged! These "horns" and their preference for night time activity has associated them with the Moon. 

Nocturnal herbivores, they have a chitinous toothed ribbon called a radula with which they shred food like fruit or leaves of trees, garden produce, grains, moss, and decaying plant matter. Their hermaphroditic nature brings lessons of Fertility as well as the patient steady efforts required to bring all plans to true fruition. Their friction reducing slime teaches us to find what truly motivates us as well as how to ease over seemingly impossible obstacles to reach our goals.

When Snail appears in our lives it is often beneficial to us to turn towards a similar vegetarian diet as well as paying more attention to our hydration needs. This quiet Teacher is easy to overlook and effort is needed to hear his lessons.  Having a hard time getting motivated? Feeling lonely, isolated, impatient with yourself or others? Harried by looming deadlines? Do you seem unable to "find time" for yourself? Have the walls you built to protect yourself started feeling like a prison? 

While others may view your withdrawal from a situation as "spineless" or "lazy", Snail people understand that sometimes time to yourself, silence or simply allowing things to progress as they need to requires Far more effort and bravery! Afraid of the darkness within you or others? This Teacher is often a Shadow Teacher, one who guides us through our fears and darkest challenges. Studying the Jungian concept of Shadow Self is extremely useful to those called by this Teacher. Snail is gently coaxing you from some damp quiet corner of the soul to come out of your shell and simply enjoy life!  

"The West has made people too time-conscious, not knowing where they are going but speeding to get there because time is short." ~Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

“We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection.

Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves."  ~The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by BrenĂ© Brown

Ultimately, there can be no complete healing until we have restored our primal trust in life. ~Georg Feuerstein

Keywords: Protection, Fertility, Patience, Persistence, Steadiness, Slowing Down, Sacred Spiral, Trust, Respect

Associated with: Spring, natural cycles, cosmic force, the Moon, water/rain, earth, winds, YinYang, Motivation, Healing, Androgyny, attention to detail, humility

Gods and Goddesses:  Tecciztecatl and other Lunar deities, Mayan Wind gods, Anat, Nu-Gua, Rain/Water deities