connected

Individuals Within the Unified Matrix of Life

January, 2019

art by Katherine Bell McClure

I’ve been considering the phrase ‘all my relations’ for some time now. It’s hugely important. It’s our saving grace in the end. It points to the truth that we are all related, that we are all connected, that we all belong to each other. The most important word is ‘all.’ Not just those who look like me, sing like me, dance like me, speak like me, pray like me or behave like me. ALL my relations. That means every person, just as it means every rock, mineral, blade of grass, and creature. We live because everything else does. If we were to choose collectively to live that teaching, the energy of our change of consciousness would heal each of us–and heal the planet.”

-Richard Wagamese

I am first generation Canadian. My parents were both born and raised in Portugal. Along with my extended family on both sides, they came to Canada to escape the Revolution and mandatory military conscription (for men at the time). Over the years, my parents have shared with me how hard it was to arrive in a new country as young adults with little English and a very different worldview, in some ways, than that of the mainstream Canadian culture of the time. My parents learned English, joined the workforce, and adopted some mainstream Canadian ways that were meaningful to them. As I get older, I appreciate more and more the things about Portuguese culture that they valued and held tight to: the language, the spiritual and cultural traditions, the importance of family and community living.

Even though I was born in Canada, Portuguese is my first language. I became more fluent in English when I went to public school in kindergarten. However, I attended Portuguese school on Saturdays to learn to read and write. I was aware from a very young age that I had to learn how to walk between two very different worlds: the very individualistic values of the mainstream Canadian society and the community values of my heritage. This was–and still is, to an extent–a delicate dance for me because I hold values in both camps: I value my individual expression and free will, while also seeing the importance of seeing myself as part of a complex matrix of life. I don’t see these two orientations towards living as dichotomies any longer. I actually see them feeding into one another quite naturally when we don’t put them on a polarized scale where one is more important than the other. As always, nature provides us with good illustrations of how these two co-exist.

Animals are who they are: a tiger does not pretend to be a horse, for instance. Animals live from their true nature, the essence of who they are. They also know the importance of cooperation. Ecosystems are a great example of this. The Canada geese in our neighbourhood have a choice of many ponds to feed at and raise their young. This year, I noticed that they moved their feeding spot despite the fact that there was still a good food supply for them. It turns out that the geese are great conservationists; they left their territory to allow it to recover from their years of use. An elder also recently reminded me that geese take turns being the leader when they are flying so the birds who fly behind have an easier time traveling. Similarly, we know that when predators are reintroduced into environments from which they’ve been absent, they restore balance to the ecosystems. When wolves were reintroduced into Yellowstone National Park, the ungulate population decreased, therefore allowing the plants and trees to flourish again. Not only do animal species know how to conserve, but different animals provide the checks and balances needed for most species to flourish. Thankfully, life is tenacious!

We are individuals with our own life paths but we are living in a relational field of energy where what we do, say, and think impacts everything else in connection with us and vice versa. We are individuals within the unified matrix of life. The question is not: Do we choose our individualistic notions above those of community? Westerners often cling to individualistic doctrine out of fear of losing their “rights.” And although we must be vigilant not to give over our rights as sovereign beings, we simply couldn’t survive alone; we depend on communities of all kinds to thrive. We see the environmental, social, human, and psychological destruction that happens when people live only from their individual needs, wants, and desires– when they forget that they are not alone in the universe. The important question in my mind is: How do we use our Spirit-given gifts to add to the collective energy of the communities we travel within (including the ecosystems we live in)? Being committed to community living is like a marriage where there will be rough patches but what is important is that we continue to face towards each other to find ways that everyone’s needs are met to some extent most of the time.

Sometimes this means that we must put aside some of our desires so someone else in need can receive more support. One community I am a part of operates in a consensus model. Coming to a general agreement that works for folks is harder the bigger the group gets, though not impossible. Similar to the geese, everyone leads at different times in this group and everyone’s voice has the possibility of being heard. I am more successful in my intimate relationships today in my forties because of my participation with this community model. I’ve learned to see where there is need in my community and give up some of my “wants” so that others might receive benefit. For example, folks have different personal financial budgets and while we have an agreement to meet each year for professional growth, we’ve had to be mindful that we don’t meet in a location each year that causes financial strife for our members. With some creative thinking and adjustment to the community agreements regarding attendance, we’ve come up with a solution that everyone can live with. Is it ideal in that everyone gets everything they want or need all the time? No. However, it does minimize the negative impact the previous system was having on the lives and well-being of some of our members.

This is what the phrase “all my relations” means to me. It entails that we think about ourselves not as contained individual planets floating around aimlessly in a lonely solar system, rather that we are in a continuous, collective dance with the other sentient beings in the universe. Though we stand in our own circles, we have a responsibility to life and to doing the least amount of harm possible. This is challenging as human beings because we all do harm to some extent in order to survive: we hunt, we forage, we take down trees to build homes, we use natural resources to fuel our cars and heat our homes. It comes down to basic Systems Theory: When one part of the system (including families and communities) changes, the whole system has to change by default. Ironically, the stronger we stand in our own inner medicine wheels as individuals, the better advocates we become for issues that imperil the health and well-being of our communities. When we know who we are and what we value, we are more likely to say what needs to be said and do what needs to be done. This is what creates true change in the world. I dedicate this article to all my relations. May we continue to evolve in co-creation with Spirit.

Wild Geese by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

***

About the Author:

Jennifer Engrácio has been a student of shamanism since 2005. Jennifer is a certified teacher who has worked with children in many different education settings since 2001. She is a certified shamanic coach, reiki master, and lomilomi practitioner; in addition, she runs Spiral Dance Shamanics. Originally from Vancouver, Canada, she now lives in Calgary, Canada with her life partner.

Engrácio participated in self-publishing three books that are now available:

The Magic Circle: Shamanic Ceremonies for the Child and the Child Within”

Women’s Power Stories: Honouring the Feminine Principle of Life”

Dreaming of Cupcakes: A Food Addict’s Shamanic Journey into Healing

For more information go to: www.spiraldanceshamanics.com

Dreaming of Cupcakes: A Food Addict’S Shamanic Journey into Healing on Amazon

Interview with Author of Everyday Enchantments Maria DeBlassie

January, 2019

Interview with Maria DeBlassie

I loved Maria’s book, Everyday Enchantments. You can find out exactly what I thought of it by reading my review in last month’s PaganPagesOrg. So, imagine my delight when the author agreed to have a chat with me about her writing and the themes within the book, particularly finding the magic in everyday life. Read on to find out more about this fascinating author and her wonderful outlook on life.

Mabh Savage: What inspired the book, Everyday Enchantments?

Maria DeBlassie: This book was inspired by my journey back to a happy, healthy, whole self. I was at a place in my life where I could finally explore what it meant to live, and not just survive. I’d finished school, gotten a job, and was finally setting down roots. Then came discovering what it meant to be a writer and a woman. I committed to a year of daily blogging on simple pleasures, everyday magic, and those quiet mystic moments inherent in our lives…that turned into a lifestyle, an ongoing blog, and this book!

MS: Who would you say it is aimed at?

MD: Everyday Enchantments is a love letter to the simple pleasures and subtle enchantments that make life delicious. I hope readers see my book as an invitation to pause, refresh, and open themselves to the magic inherent in daily life. We all have a little bit of witch in us. My book is for anyone who wants to tap into that magic and conjure their own bliss!

MS: Do you have a favorite chapter?

MD: I love them all as I read them. Sometimes, when I’m needing more introvert time, I’m drawn to the chapters on reading and writing. When I’m ready to go adventuring, I find it’s the chapters on dancing and dreaming that resonate with me more.

MS: What was the biggest challenge about putting the book together?

MD: I wanted to collapse the space between the mystic and the mundane, which had its own challenges. How do you show that synchronicity is an integral part of your everyday? And how do you explain that a good cup of coffee is pure divinity? These are the questions I wrestled with as I wrote the book. I didn’t want the mystic to be something outside ourselves or beyond our daily routines. It’s always there, right within our grasp, if we take the time to look for it. I think, in the end, I was able to illustrate that.

MS: And conversely, what did you enjoy the most about the process?

MD: I love how writing became an act of self-care and spell-crafting, bringing me back to myself when I’d grown too tired of the world. It allowed me to conjure the life I wished to live: one of abundance, grounded mysticism, and happiness!

MS: Some reviewers have commented on the mindfulness contained within the pages of this book. What does mindfulness mean to you?

MD: Mindfulness is a fancy word for staying connected to ourselves and the universe. It’s about slowing down and letting go of the debris that weighs us down, so we have more room for the euphoric.

MS: Should we all be practicing a little more mindfulness? Why is it so important in today’s world?

MD: We live in a world that asks us to move faster and faster, do more, buy more; in short, overextend ourselves in our addiction to busy. When we practice mindfulness, we can unplug from this ugly addiction and connect to what truly matters. It really is the art of slow living or simple living, where we let go of anything that complicates our lives. Once you unplug, you see how addictive- and unnecessary- all that hustle and bustle is.

MS: Can someone in a thoroughly urban setting, with a high-pressure schedule, still find enchantment in their everyday lives?

MD: Absolutely! I live in the heart of Albuquerque and have a very full teaching and writing life. Both are jobs that never quite end, which makes it easy to get lost in the daily grind- even when you love what you do. I’ve just found ways to put limits on them by carving out self-care time and leaving myself open to the little bits of magic that come my way. It’s amazing how much enchantment you find in your daily life when you decide to let go of negative patterns and unhealthy social norms that say we must always be spinning our wheels.

MS: Each chapter holds a meditative, poetic quality that’s very relaxing to read but I imagine would be potent read aloud. Would you consider doing an audio book?

MD: I would love to! I don’t know quite how it all works, but I am addicted to audiobooks myself in all genres. A few minutes listening to a good story or bit of wisdom on my lunch break or while tending house does my soul a world of good.

MS: What’s on the horizon creatively for you? Are you planning any more books?

MD: My current project is called Tarot Tuesdays, or #TarotTuesdays if you are on social media. It’s a series of 78-word stories based on the 78 cards in the tarot deck and synchronicity. Each week, I draw a new card, learn about its role in the tarot, and, with the help of meaningful coincidences, write my story. I’ll say this about my journey into tarot so far: the magic doesn’t lie. The cards always tell me exactly what I need to hear! I’m so grateful for this new project because it gives me an opportunity to meditate on the magic of these cards.

MS: What are you most optimistic for about the next year?

MD: I look forward to the unexpected adventures and spontaneous synchronicities while delving deeper into the realm of everyday magic. Every year I get a little bit better at welcoming enchantment into my life so I’m excited to see what that manifests.

MS: Do you have a favorite time of the year, festival or season? If so, what makes it special for you?

MD: This is a tough one. I love every season as it unfolds, blooms, then fades into the next. I’m ruled by the season and enjoy experiencing each one in their turn. Right now, I’m loving the long nights of winter and delicate hush that hits around 4pm as the sky begins to fade to dark. It’s the best time for walks; everything is watermelon-kissed before the sun sets.

MS: And finally, as we move deeper into winter, how do you celebrate the holiday period? ?

MD: This is a time for turning inward for me. So much of the mainstream holiday season is about noise, consumerism, and doing more. I like to get away from all that and simply be. I indulge in afternoons reading over mugs of home-made chai tea. I make simple, heartfelt gifts for loved ones. I up my self-care routine and allow myself to rest. This winter solstice season is the perfect time to pause, reflect, and absorb the many ups and downs of your year before slipping into the next. I like to honor that liminal space. There’s plenty of joy in that; I’m all about the twinkle lights and festive holiday cheer. I just like it at a slower, cozier pace, where I can absorb the delights of this more introverted season and recharge with the magic of the solstice.

Thank you so much for speaking to us here at PaganPagesOrg, Maria! You can find Maria’s book on Amazon and all good book stores. You can also follow her fascinating blog, and find her on Facebook. Don’t forget to check out the #TarotTuesdays hashtag to follow Maria’s exploration of the Tarot.

Everyday Enchantments: Musings on Ordinary Magic & Daily Conjurings on Amazon

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About the Author:

Mabh Savage is a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist.

She is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestorsand Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways.

A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors on Amazon

Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways on Amazon

Book Review: Confessions of a Bone Woman – Realizing Authentic Wildness in a Civilized World By Lucinda Bakken White

May, 2018

Book Review

Confessions of a Bone Woman – Realizing Authentic Wildness in a Civilized World By Lucinda Bakken White

This is a “coming of age” tale, the story of one woman’s rediscovery of freedom, joy and ultimately, herself. Lucinda Bakken White excavates her soul from underneath a lifetime of meeting expectations and fulfilling the demands of parents, peers, career, marriage and children and life as a “powerful socialite.” How does she do that? By excavating the bones and feathers of “roadkill” and creating art from them. She finds her life in the death and resurrection of the wilderness animals she roamed among as child.

Bakken White tells her tale of innocence lost and reborn using animal archetypes to describe herself at different points in her life. She moves from being a wolf, secure with her place in the pack, to a wolf among lions, changing her “skin” to meet the expectations of society and family. Her description of how she gave herself up, piece by piece and bone and bone, is worth reading. From the perspectives of both parent and child, it is an accurate description of how we are trained to conform, to be other than who we are and to take off the “skins” of our true natures to wear designer clothes. We become disconnected from the rhythms and cycles of the natural world and we fall out of balance with ourselves.

(Bone Altar)

Bakken White hears the call back to herself in dreams of Wolf and feels the pull to work with bones when she finds a buffalo skull that appears to her as a portal to other realms. She becomes “ravenous for bone” and finds that animals, dead and alive, communicate with her like her dreams do. Encounters with animals become an invitation to communicate with forces greater than herself and force her to stay aware and connected, pulling her back to herself and out of her superficial preoccupations. She finds herself working with carcasses of animals, preserving them, honoring the lives of the spirits that had once inhabited them and ultimately making sacred their presence here on Earth. Bakken White writes about digging into decaying carcasses with her fingers to get through what is dead to the bones, the structure of a life; she realizes that by digging through decay and going inside, with persistence and without horror, she can pull out and restore that which gives her life meaning.

Now as a woman coming of age and fully inhabiting her Elderhood, Bakken White works with other women to examine the masks they wear. She writes that in “looking back, I realized that bone by bone the animals I found were a metaphor for my personal process of discovering, unmasking and reconnecting the scattered parts of my true self.” But rather ending the book by identifying with the archetype of La Loba, the wolf woman who sings over the bones, Bakken White’s last chapter is called “Skunk.” Skunk is confident with herself and owns respect!!

Click Image for Amazon Information

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About the Author:

Susan Rossi is a Practitioner and Teacher of Shamanism. She is a long-time explorer of The Mysteries – the connections between mind, body, spirit and how to live in right relationship to all of the energies streaming through the cosmos. She works with clients as an astrologer, coach, ceremonialist and guide to the wisdom that each of us has the capacity to access. Her focus is on guiding clients to unblock and rediscover their inner wisdom. , exploration of the birth chart, ceremony, legacy writing, hypnotherapy, energetic healing practice and creation of sacred tools are integral pieces of her practice.

Susan trained in Soul Level Astrology with master astrologer Mark Borax. She delights in exploring with individuals the planetary pattern under which their soul choose to incarnate.

Flying to the Heart www.flyingtotheheart.com