documentary

Self-Love: The Gift of Living Aloha

August, 2018

Love is the only emotion that expands intelligence.”

-Humberto Maturana

Recently, my partner and I went to see the new documentary about one of my childhood heroes, Fred Rogers. The film “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” touched me at a deep, universal soul level; I am rarely affected this way by movies so this experience had my attention. I wept through the film wondering what words I could use to describe what I was feeling. When I was a kid, I used to watch “Mister Roger’s Neighborhood” every weekday on television. At some point in the show, he would say the healing words that made me feel truly seen and accepted for who I was: “I like you just as you are.” In a society that is always telling us that we are not good enough, this was–and remains–a radical statement. If people love themselves, that love can’t help but extend out to others. From a shamanic perspective, the dark energies of the universe cannot exist in such blazing light. This is the way we use our personal power as humans to transform hate into love, as this quote by Adebe DeRango-Adem alludes to: Loving who you are means giving yourself permission to cherish your authenticity, and forgive the times you forgot your own power.” In Traditional Hawaiian Medicine, this is the way to maintain our personal sovereignty. Freedom starts with how we treat ourselves on the inside.

As an adult, I can see that Mr. Rogers was expressing a world view that I too held as truth and have been able to articulate better recently. I was invited to speak to mental health nursing students at a university from the point of view of a recovering addict who healed using shamanic medicine. In my sharing, I pointed out that some addicts are not able to heal without including the spiritual aspect of life, so often times mainstream medicine alone won’t cut if for folks like me. We also talked a lot about self-acceptance and how vital it is to the healing process. Many students were confused by this: “Why would you accept something that is causing harm like addiction?” In shamanic practice, we say that life is the greatest teacher. Our practice is in learning from every situation life throws at us. With each new challenge, we have a chance to grow our characters while becoming more content living in the present. We live in the present so we can see life as it is–not as we’d like it to be. If we don’t acknowledge the truth of our situations, we have no chance to transform our lives into ones that are aligned with our individual values and sacred dreams.

Like many of you, I was taught implicitly that I had to earn approval and acceptance by what I contributed and how I acted. It wasn’t enough to just “be.” Growing up Catholic, I was taught that I was a flawed being who had to prove my worthiness. I could understand how it was hard for the students at the university to grok how we could improve our characters by loving ourselves just as we are in this moment when many of them grew up with this belief too: If we don’t work hard to change the things we don’t like about ourselves, then we will never improve ourselves. It was hard initially for me to understand this, too. I learned that acceptance means being honest with ourselves about what is so and we can do that without applying negative self-talk and cruelty to the mix. Contrary to what many of us were taught, violence does not in and of itself inspire positive change. As Uncle Harry Uhane Jim says, “Love doesn’t prevent trauma; it prevails it.” If we really want to create positive change in our lives, the journey may involve endeavoring to learn to love ourselves the way the Creator/Creatrix does. In my experience, the universe doesn’t punish us for our actions; it merely gives us many opportunities to remember that we come from light and aloha. We can change course at any time as sovereign beings.

There is a saying I’ve heard that we are each a cell in the body of the Great Spirit. Christians express a similar sentiment when they say that we are all children of God. If we follow that out, it only makes sense that self-love is important because how we treat ourselves says something about our relationship with the energy of creation. It wasn’t until I started studying Traditional Hawaiian Medicine and practicing lomilomi that I began to understand the importance of maintaining this energy flow of aloha between me and Great Spirit. Simply put, aloha is the unconditional love of Spirit that moves through us with every breath we take. Lomilomi teaches the receiver and giver both how to live in a state of aloha where the energy of Spirit moves through the body with ease and grace. Richard Gunderman said that [w]hen Rogers encouraged children to be kinder and more loving, he believed that he was not only promoting public health, but also nurturing the most important part of a human being—the part that exhibits a divine spark.” Remembering that we come from aloha is vitally important to our healing as spirit beings in human form.

Often, people tell me that they didn’t come to a group ceremony because they weren’t “fit for human consumption”– or to say it more neutrally, they weren’t at their best. To that, I say: “That is exactly when we need to come together in healing–when we are not feeling great. This simply means that we have forgotten that we are made of light and need a reminder.” Over the years, I’ve adopted Mr. Roger’s statement and encouraged people to come as they are. Emotional expression is a valid way of communicating with the world. We don’t always feel bright or cheerful and expressing this authentically is truthful. If ceremonies are to be effective, there must be space for this. I may not always like the way people choose to express themselves, but I’ve trained myself to stay open to listening to the unmet universal needs they are revealing through their words and actions. I believe loving and being loved in return is a universal human need. Validating others as legitimate beings however they appear in the moment opens the door to greater healing. By holding space and healthy boundaries, we can support each other in figuring out new ways to heal, grow, communicate, and learn.

On my personal healing journey, I’ve tried healing by beating myself up and also by practicing realigning myself with the energy of aloha. What I’ve found is that starting from the belief that I come from aloha is an easier road to healing than staying with the belief that I am inherently bad and in need of fixing. I found that feeding this false belief took up a lot of precious energy that could have been going towards living my life purpose. Treating myself as a sacred being has helped me to enjoy the gift of being alive in a human body. Whatever happens, I can be present and practice new ways to move through challenges. I also catch more of the joyful moments because I am not so wrapped up in how I think things should go. I am not so caught up in presenting the perfect “me” that I think people want to see. Surprising things bring me pleasure when I can stay in this place of self-love. How can you practice living aloha to support your healing today? How might this help you enjoy your life more? When your container is filled with aloha, how will you actively allow that to spill over into your community?

I leave you with Mr. Roger’s words just before his death: “I would like to tell you what I often told you when you were much younger. I like you just the way you are. And what’s more, I’m so grateful to you for helping the children in your life to know that you’ll do everything you can to keep them safe. And to help them express their feelings in ways that will bring healing in many different neighborhoods. It’s such a good feeling to know that we’re lifelong friends.” I send my heartfelt gratitude and blessings to your spirit, Fred Rogers.

Resources:

article: Self-Care Is a Radical Act, But Not in the Way We’re Practising It Right Now

https://www.flare.com/living/self-care-is-a-radical-act/

article: Mr. Roger’s Message of Love

http://www.dailygood.org/story/2062/mister-roger-s-message-of-love-richard-gunderman/

about Lomilomi:

http://spiraldanceshamanics.com/lomilomi/

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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 practitioner, 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

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

July, 2018

July 2018 for Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

Bright Blessings.

I write this on the Summer Solstice, and Summer Seems to have hit early, with record breaking highs for the month of May here in my hometown, and all the sudden this week, the rain has cooled things to the high 70’s and low 80’s temperature-wise.

I am sure you know that the plants are loving it!

June and July are not only amazing months for us gardeners, but June, itself is LGBT Pride month. We had the Stonewall Columbus (Ohio) Pride Parade in downtown this past weekend, and for the first year in nine years, I had zero involvement. My guys also did not march, as the gentleman I passed it onto had to work.

Last year’s parade got National coverage as a group protested WITHIN the parade, halting the line, and being arrested on the spot. It resulted in anger from the people arrested, and the resignation of about a dozen Parade organizers.

It divided the community, and resulted in a lot of fights. Some believe the protesters were treated unfairly, others believe the protesters were out of line, and got what they deserved.

To my knowledge, however, there were no similar incidents at this year’s Pride.

The gay rights movement has been a lot of things over the decades, and quiet is not one of them. Many believe that to make an impact, you have to make a strong statement.

To A More Perfect Union

While I was unable to secure the interview I normally do when I preview a current film, I decided to go ahead and review this one anyways because it is such a crucial work focusing not only on the battle for gay civil rights, but traces the steps taken in a major victory in the legal system.

Here is their website, including a trailer you may watch.

https://perfectunionfilm.com/#home

To a More Perfect Union”, directed by Donna Zaccaro is a mesmerizing documentary that follows the life and love of Edith Windsor, who met partner, and later, wife, Thea in 1963. They became engaged in 1967, and could not legally marry until they 2007, and had to go to Canada to do so.

The film chronicles the gay civil rights movement in the US starting in the 1950’s up to modern times, including the famous 1969 police raid of Stonewall Inn in NYC. They fought back. Demonstrations lasted for five days, and Pride parades were started soon after.

Excerpts from the 1967 CBS special, “The Homosexuals” was shared on the film, and if is shown that in 1965, close to 3,000 homosexuals were arrested for being who they were, and homosexuality was classed as a mental illness, as well as a crime.

Fast forward to the 1980’s when AIDS first hit. Celebrities like Rock Hudson became spokespersons, and the community organized to demand research to learn to prevent, and cure AIDS.

Clinton’s famous Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was passed in 1992.

In 1996, a bill to “protect marriage” or the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) , ensuring marriage was between one man and one woman was passed.

Sadly, Thea died, and widow Edie was forced to pay an estate tax to keep the property she and Thea owned together- since the United States did not recognize their marriage as legally legitimate.

She sued the government. She won.

In 2011, Obama stated DOMA was unconstitutional. One by one, more lawmakers started speaking against it, individual judges struck it down, and even Bill Clinton, who was in office when it was passed, said it was time to undo it.

Decades of work by LGBT activists and lawmakers were able to undo it in 2015, and the Supreme Court proclaimed “same sex couples may exercise their fundamental right to marry in all states. No longer may this liberty be denied to them.”

Edie Windsor crossed the veil September 12, 2017, but she lived to see all the hard work pay off. This extraordinary woman, who lived an extraordinary life, and helped create beautiful changes in this world, will always be remembered and celebrated.

The work is far from over today. We have a President who is anti a lot of things, anti-gay being one of them. His team has already removed the White House LGBT page. Not only has vice President Mike Pence tried multiple times to pass legislation against gay marriage, but tried to make those seeking same sex marriage licenses be charged with a crime. He further tried to take funding from AIDS research and put it into funding conversion therapy.

The fight is not, and it may never be over.

If you want to watch this amazing documentary, nab tissues, and be prepared to be enlightened. I look forward to more films from this team.

Back to the Garden

July is going to bring much harvest of our herbs and hopefully, tomatoes. As I have worked to cultivate the patio garden, shifting from emphasis on the front where we get more sun, I have discovered tomatoes just don’t thrive as there is lower light than they need. Every year, I learn more. Last year, for example, I learned that you have to fertilize hardcore EVERY year, because if you grow a LOT of cucumbers and tomatoes one year, and fertilize afterwards just a little? You don’t get many plants the next year.

I have also learned that my back likes me better if I plant more on the patio and less out front, as it is a lot less work.

That is the mundane.

I also decided to learn a bit of plant protection and about non-chemical ways to protect plants. These are tips you can use for the suggested magical working for this month.

Magical Plant Protection

This year, a couple roses were simply decimated by some insect or another, and poison ivy enveloped a bush. I resorted to chemicals to kill the poison ivy and insects, and this means I cannot use the roses this year to cook with or make tea.

I had used the dish soap remedy for quite some time, and it just wasn’t getting it. I had to pull nearly every single leaf off the rosebush, and the poor rose looks like the insects won this time.

So, I wanted to see what people in days of yore did back before chemicals.

Many magical people use charms and blessings, and while people from centuries ago did all of that, they also understood that was not quite enough! One good predatory attack, and your crops were gone. An entire family or village could starve due to this!

Some non-chemical things they used, which we can too, included :

  1. Scarecrows- They help drive away birds that would munch the crops, but just putting one in the ground would not do. Scarecrows had to be treated properly or they would not work. They required clothing, as well as a nice hat to keep them cool in the sun. It was unacceptable for somebody to wear the scarecrow’s clothes, or very bad things would happen to the wearer! If you did not clothe your scarecrow properly, your crops would not grow!

  2. ificial owls- These help deter critters who are fearful an owl will eat them.

  3. Shiny things to reflect the sun- These spook birds, and help send them away. Gazing balls are a good example, which are also supposed to drive evil away.

  4. Evil Eye amulets- Like gazing balls, there are amulets and other trinkets used to keep the evil eye away. Some believe envy from somebody who has the power of evil eye will make everything in your garden die. Another way to avert this is to share plants and your harvest with neighbors.

  5. Dogs- Not just for protecting sheep, man’s best friend will chase away birds and other critters who would munch your plants.

  6. Lady bugs- They eat some of the bad pests, helping keep plants healthy.

  7. Chickens- They love worms, caterpillars, maggots, and etc. A friend told me you don’t just want to let your chickens loose in the plants, as they peck, dig, and pull up roots. However, their very presence on the property helps cut down your pest population in general. And you get their eggs!!!!!

  8. Plant things that deter pests- Some plants that help include nasturtiums, marigolds, mint, lavender, citronella, wormwood, borage, and mums.

  9. Some natural pesticides include- Salt on slugs and snails, soapy water on June bugs, and diatomaceous earth. I also hand pick grubs out, and smash them, and do the same with june bugs.

  10. Have garden gnomes- They bring good luck to gardens. Feed your garden gnomes, and put a saucer of milk out for them daily, or you will have some bad luck. They will aid in security of the home and garden, as well as help do some chores , and make sure the plants grow. If you don’t do this, they will move things around where you cannot find them, and your garden will not grow.

Plant Lore and Practical Magic

Then there is a bit of plant lore that can be kept in mind for further success in plants!

  1. Never pick foxglove blooms. It upsets the fairies.

  2. Ask a plant for it’s permission before you transplant it, or it will die.

  3. Some believe plants will not thrive unless stolen! So, people gifting plants put them down and walk away so the recipient may “steal” them!

  4. It is considered bad luck to thank people for plants as well.

  5. Roses promise love and romance. No wonder people give their sweethearts roses! Give those roses to people you pledge love to, but they are not allowed to thank you!

  6. Rusty nails or iron objects in the garden when seeds are planted help them grow.

  7. Many have their gardens planted with beneficial herbs for healing as well as cooking. Different plants have different meanings. A quick google search will turn up multiple pages sharing plant lore. I find I always like to have mint, for example, and I don’t ever want to be without it. I love it for the smell and flavor, but it is also reputed to keep mice and flies away. It helps with upset stomach, and helps wake you up. It also dries well, and produces so much, and I love sharing it.

  8. Companion planting- This cannot be stressed enough. Plant things together that help one another grow. Perhaps most famous is the three sisters garden of corn , beans, and squash. The cornstalks provide structure for the beans to grow up. The beans put necessary nitrogen in the soil, benefiting all three plants. The squashes big leaves shade the soil, keeping it cool, and help prevent weeds.

  9. Make sure you out the right plant in the right spot. The soil has to be correct, the amount of sun it gets has to be correct, and most of all, you have to make sure you are capable of taking care of said plant. This is very mundane, but 100% necessary.

  10. Love your plants. It has been proven in many studies that plants that are showered with love produce better. This has been shown in studies where people fussed at plants, saying ugly things to them, and others, said supportive, loving things to different plants. The plants spoken lovingly to thrived, and the others died.

May your July be blessed. May your plants grow well, and may you enjoy the long days, warm weather, and the love of those around you, just as you are.

Blessed Be.

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About the Author:

Saoirse is a recovered Catholic.  I was called to the Old Ways at age 11, but I thought I was just fascinated with folklore. At age 19, I was called again, but I thought I was just a history buff, and could not explain the soul yearnings I got when I saw images of the Standing Stones in the Motherland. At age 29, I crossed over into New Age studies, and finally Wicca a couple years later. My name is Saoirse, pronounced like (Sare) and (Shah) Gaelic for freedom. The gods I serve are Odin and Nerthus. I speak with Freyja , Norder, and Thunor as well. The Bawon has been with me since I was a small child, and Rangda has been with me since the days I was still Catholic. I received my 0 and 1 Degree in an Eclectic Wiccan tradition, and my Elder is Lord Shadow. We practice in Columbus, Ohio. I am currently focusing more on my personal growth, and working towards a Second and Third Degree with Shadow. I received a writing degree from Otterbein University back in 2000. I have written arts columns for the s Council in Westerville. I give private tarot readings and can be reached through my Facebook page Tarot with Saoirse. You can, also, join me on my Youtube Channel