Sundays Theme

When we’re Out of Options

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Humans have a hard time with seeing things without putting them in categories. Things are good or bad, sacred or profane, The physical world can be seen as a place that distracts us from our important spiritual work. Looked at from the traditional Christian perspective, we are created, live a brief time on earth, then spend eternity somewhere else – where, based only on what we did while on earth. On the other hand, many cultures see time as more cyclical, and reincarnation is spiritual recycling. We come to earth, learn lessons, die, live some time elsewhere, review the lessons we learned, then come back for new ones (or sometimes a do-over), on and on until we may join with a mystical 0ne. (There are other theories. I guess we won’t know for sure until we get there, and maybe not then.)

But I prefer the idea that the physical and spiritual worlds are blended and equally important. Certainly there is ample evidence that there are other beings out there in parallel worlds that intersect with ours, and some of them seem very eager to hop into our bodies if we give them the chance, (ghosts, loa, ancestors…) to enjoy eating, drinking, dancing, (smoking, screwing,…). This supports the theories that the physical world is a place that makes it possible for us to do things we can’t do on the non-physical planes, and interact with the many other beings who also live here. Spiritual paths that see the physical world as a manifestation of divinity certainly see the natural world as a positive, wonderful place, as spiritually valid as the non-physical plane.

It can also be an uncomfortable and dangerous place, and sometime we have to deal with those aspects of it. Some say that these are the situations we have chosen to learn certain lessons that we need. Certainly when the situation constrains us, we have to focus on what is most important, something we wouldn’t choose to do when given a wide range of comfortable choices. Sometimes our choices are so reduced we don’t have any choices left except how we’re going to deal with the lack of choices. Like a corset or a cast on a broken limb- circumstances sometimes make us stay in a position we wouldn’t otherwise be in. But I mention those images because sometimes, the position, however uncomfortable, is just the one we need to be in.

For those of you who know the Tarot- think of the meanings of the four and seven of cups. (if you don’t read Tarot, look at the images and draw your own conclusions from them.) With the seven of cups we are spoiled for choices, it can even be immobilizing because we have so many to pick from; in contrast, with the four of cups, we are left wondering if we trying to reach for a new option might put what we already have at risk. Having choices is not always beneficial.

So when we are in one of the periods of our life when our choices are reduced or absent, we still have the ability to learn, benefit, and heal from the situation. If nothing else, we may be more appreciative when we get a few more, if humble, options. We may have learned valuable skills and perspectives that will serve us later in life. Or, we may come through the crisis transformed, as so many who go through near death experiences do, with a whole new view of reality. Whether physically, spiritually, emotionally challenged, the greatest lesson usually is some form of help each other when you can.

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Sacrifice our wants to the needs of others Sunday

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The last Sunday of August has been declared Sacrifice Our Wants to Other’s Needs Sunday by the organization Be Kind to Humankind.

This is a pretty cool idea, if not a well known holiday. It challenges us to look at the difference between wants and needs, which is something we often forget to do. And as great as helping others is, today I’m writing about the other side of the issue.

I’m looking at all of you empaths and healers out there who don’t take care of yourselves!
Parents work really hard to try to get our kids to recognize that the other kids have wants and needs, just as they do, and they should take those desires and needs into account when deciding what to do- whether to take the bigger piece of cake, or whether to let the other kid go first. Sadly, when the first lessons seem to be taking, we often neglect to fine tune the lesson as we do with other things we are teaching. It’s hard to differentiate between wants and needs, and we too often hope that they’ll figure it out later, but it doesn’t happen.

Too many people (you healers, helpers) forget to put their own needs for sleep, for nutrition, for attention, (yes it is a real need…) into the equation when allocating their time and energy, as if their needs don’t count as much as those of others. WAKE UP! Your needs are just as important as everyone else’s! Remember the pre-flight instructions: if the oxygen masks come down, put your own on before you help your kids. (How much help are you going to be able to give if you’ve passed out, eh? Yes, it’s an analogy.) We’re not asking you to be greedy or selfish, only to recognize that you are worthy of consideration, as much as those you help, and that if you neglect yourself, you’re denying that resource (you) from those you help.

Helping others is great. As a matter of fact, it’s probably the only thing that’s going to save the world at this point. But remember that just as the needs of others are more important than your wants, YOUR needs are more important than their wants. Yes, I know it’s harder to judge emotional and spiritual needs than physical ones; they are so much more amorphous than simple food, water, and air. But you’ve already got the big idea down, you know we’re all in this together. Just remember that you are a part of that big “Us”, and give yourself equal consideration.

This has been a public service announcement from someone who’s watched a whole lot of “Givers” run themselves into the ground unnecessarily. Trust me, the good people you’re helping will be happy that you’re taking care of yourself, even if temporarily inconvenienced.

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The fire within us

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Do you use props to spur your magick or manifestation? Do you use incense, candles, a chalice, and other things to cast a circle or make something happen (push the probabilities)? One of the mysteries of the universe is that you won’t always need them. They are great when you are learning to work with the energies of the universe (don’t let anyone tell you otherwise), but eventually, you may be able to use the breath of your body for air, your blood for water, the heat of your body or emotions for fire, and your flesh and bones for earth.

We are not taught as children to sense the energies of the world, but once we’ve learned to feel and work with them, we can feel them pulsing all around. Each of us may perceive them in a different way- some see auras, some hear spirits speaking, some feel the subtle differences in wavelengths. It’s cool how many ways different people sense what most people are unaware of. The more we do it, the better we get at it.

There will always be people who have practiced more, who start with more innate ability, which is why we have specialists in the world for everything from plumbing to medicine. It’s OK to get someone to help when you are faced with a task greater than your current abilities. But never doubt that you can be more than you are now, and the first step is simply being aware that it’s possible. But your inner fire, your creativity, your magickal process is yours, and just as there are different ways to doing anything else, you need to explore your inner fire in your way. Other people can help sometimes, but remember, just as you digest your own food, you also create your own magick. Everyone has it in them.

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We need to communicate with each other

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We may not usually think of talking as a need, but there are few things that cause us more unnecessary difficulties than bad communication. It’s easy to think “wouldn’t it be wonderful if we were all telepathic?”. But that requires a lot of good blocking so you don’t get everything at once. Just think how hard it is to block only our own intrusive thoughts! Can you imagine the chaos if we heard every stupid thing that went through everyone else’s mind that they would NEVER say out loud? I’m certainly happy that people don’t hear everything that goes through my mind! (and so are you!)

I’ve learned a bit about communication styles and have learned that not only do men and women speak differently, different cultures speak differently, but also there seem to be inherent personal differences, such as the speed at which you speak, all of which can hamper rather than help communication. I tend to speak fast, two of my kids speak slowly. They are constantly pointing out that I’ve cut them off- even when I thought I’d given them what seemed to me excessive time to start the next sentence, or reply. Even now that we know about the issue and are trying to work on it, we end up being cross with each other for simply how fast or how slowly we talk.

Add to this cultural variation in posture and facial expressions, and our American “melting pot” can result in serious miscommunication. One culture sees meeting your eyes as a challenge, while another sees it as a sign of honesty. One sees a giggle as an expression of embarassment, while another sees it as a sign of disrespect. One employee will say he can do something when he means he thinks he can learn it, while another will only say so when he has mastered the skill. How’s a boss to know which one he’s dealing with? One thing is certain, we often cannot tell what the other person means, even without mind reading!

Photo by Tim Hipps

Still, talking is the best technique we’ve got for understanding each other. Here at CTCW we are hoping to get people from different backgrounds to share their knowledge and experiences in the fields of the “Paranormal”. But since we’ve been keeping it discrete (occult) for so long, each group has developed their own way of talking about it. If someone speaks of totems and another speaks of spirit guides- will we seriously misunderstand each other if we equate them, or can experiences with each inform the others? How do we know?

When Witches speak of working with “shadow” energy, some New Age practitioners become nervous, having been trained to work with only “the light”. Can the witches explain how the shadows are aspects of the whole, and not evil in any way that could be understood? I bet there are at least a dozen ways to describe that work. Or can ghost hunters with their gadgets communicate with spiritualists and their impressions? I hope we can. We need to respect each other, and stop assuming that our group contains the only stable people, while others who deal with the supernatural are nuts. We need to explain our specialized vocabulary and not use jargon unless there are no other words (and then definitely explain them). We must not make fun of each other, no matter how easy it seems, and how much it gets a laugh. That laugh can separate us.

Respect is the key to communication, whether between men and women, between fast and slow speakers, and between investigators of the occult. All humans have these experiences, but until we can talk about them freely, we are not going to be able to combine our resources to study them. Isn’t it worth it to give up our smug egotism about OUR group in order to learn more? We need to talk- so we need to learn how to talk.

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Need to be Needed

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Certainly a girl doesn’t need to be nothing more than an accessory to someone who sees her as a sign of success, not as a person. When you are in a real relationship, both parties do begin to need each other, if not for survival, for quality of life. Someone who makes you feel your best self, and brings out your best qualities is a keeper!

As we think about needs, we recognize that some of our needs are emotional and spiritual, not just simply what we need to survive. I look at it like the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) of vitamins. This is amounts of each of the nutrients they knew about during WWII that were required to keep soldiers (male, young, fairly healthy) from showing symptoms of deficiency diseases. (More recently they’ve been checking to see where these requirements may differ for women or other groups.) But note that this is the level where if the subject didn’t get that daily amount, they began to manifest symptoms of disease. So this is NOT what you need to be healthy, if that’s what you are getting, you are walking on the fine line above showing symptoms of disease. They’ve never been able to figure out what we need to be optimally healthy, probably because it varies from person to person and what they are doing at the time.

When you think about your emotional needs, do you think about the need to be needed? They have discovered that older people in “homes” are much healthier when they have pets. Not only do the pets show them affection, having someone to care for gives the person who has had almost all agency removed a reason to look outward. An infant naturally needs someone to care for it for several years, and gives parents or caregivers an awareness that they are keeping the baby alive and (we hope) happy.

Some people have a distrust of “needs” that may come from having seen the interaction between a dependent and whoever is taking care of them abused. The parent-child relationship is a beautiful thing, so is a loving couple making each other’s lives better. “Paying it forward” is the natural way to keeping the species alive.

What we want to avoid is any relationship where the balance of power is off not naturally, as in the case of an infant, but unnaturally- such as in a culture where men and women (or other groups within the population) are given different levels of self determination. In the musical Oliver (source of this picture and quote), Nancy was both dependent because women didn’t have the options for financially supporting themselves, and also because her boyfriend, Bill, used violence to keep her with him.

In this case, Nancy, and those like her, convince themselves that their abusers need them because otherwise awareness that she’s contributing to her own abuse would hurt her more. We do have a need to be needed. We need to feel that there is something we are accomplishing in the world more than just eating, sleeping, and breathing. When Oliver’s needs from Nancy exceeded Bill’s imagined needs, Nancy was able to break away from her unhealthy fantasy. When a parent gradually leads his child to become more independent until he no longer physically needs his parent, but maintains the relationship for the emotional and spiritual benefits, that’s good parenting.

The theme this year is need, so as we examine that, let’s also let’s look at our relationship with the “Weird”. While I’m comfortable asserting that we should look at supernatural phenomena more closely, open to the possibility it’s real, that doesn’t mean that we should ditch our critical thinking skills. It’s exciting to learn new things, we mustn’t get dependent on these activities. Dowsing is a wonderful tool, but you shouldn’t use it to make all your decisions for you.* Keeping a dream journal can help you remember and understand your dreams, but if you are spending over an hour a day on it, you can probably cut back to an hour. If you’re a medium, unless you have some people who’ll pay to watch you do it, you probably shouldn’t be spending so much time talking to spirits that you are missing work. As with any activity, don’t go overboard. Don’t let it interfere with relationships between you and your family and friends. Don’t let it interfere with work, or adversely impact your health. Don’t let any system or group make decisions for you. Somethings we need to do regularly- like breathing. Doing anything successfully is going to make you feel good. But don’t become dependent upon any single source of satisfaction. You haven’t always done it, you won’t always be doing it, it’s just one of many good things in your life, but only one. Do what you need to do for you.

*Don’t ask “Should I take this vitamin?” ask “Will I be significantly healthier if I take this vitamin”. Taking it is your decision, dowsing can tell you if it’s going to have a subtle effect you can’t predict.

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