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Om Stonehenge - Photo by Robin Renée

 

This morning I ran across an old essay I wrote. It feels so apropos to share it. I hope you’ll forgive me for not waiting ’til Throwback Thursday.

I must be joking to soften how urgent and pertinent this feels for me in this moment. To live in spiritual openness, plurality, and fluidity, to be available to awareness of and wisdom in varied paths is a deep part of authentic spiritual growth. I want always to find new language for the great inner experiences, and to know that I may always find new ways to explore and express the same. I want always to know that how others find their way is a reason not for disdain but for celebration.

As I move in the flow of my own journey, I am discovering the ways kirtan, as much as I love it, has served to obscure some of the deepest work I need to do – the experiencing, uncovering, and writing down the blood-and-guts stories of pain, desire, memory, ecstasy, and daily life in all its messy glory. Now I am drawn to turn much of my attention to that work. Though my current focus is different, the essence of the essay below captures so much of what I feel and know in my bones tonight. I am glad to share this snapshot of what I was thinking about in October 2007, not long after the release of Live Devotion.

 

Buddha, Baal, and Mary— Finding your Footing Among Many Spiritual Paths

The other evening, a friend and I had a glorious opportunity to sit in a park in Bristol, PA with a fresh fruit picnic as we enjoyed the transition from summer to autumn, from evening sun to dusky night. If you don’t identify as Pagan, this is one of those nights that could beckon you toward that particular spiritual way—In the warm air, highlighted by an idyllic full moon, we savored the opportunity to sit close to the earth and to touch the grass that made its best effort to return strong from its most recent mowing, all in the company of a gorgeous, mighty oak. How easy it is to discover the Divine through nature on a night like this, and to experience the sacred energy of Goddess, God, Mother Earth, Father Sky—any of those names—ancient or new—that one may use to describe The Infinite.

I am a longtime practitioner of meditation, bhakti yoga, and eclectic Paganism. Indo-Pagan, Krishna witch—I enjoy wading through the words I might use to describe the set of practices that call to me. During our twilight picnic, my friend told me about her growing connection to the Druid path, and how she loves celebrating with her group, called a grove. She enjoys the righteous mix of reverence and mirth among its members, and that with each gathering they create anew while harkening to the ancients. We talked about how, like many modern Pagans, we both create rituals and adorn our own altars according to our personal connections to Spirit.

This friend of mine had a happy thing to report on that front – Not long ago, she added an image to her altar. Mary. Yes, Holy Mary, Mother of God. She had discovered a sweet, inner connection to Mary, opened to her guidance as a Protector, and for many nights has lit candles to honor her. It was a bit daunting at first, this foray into the icons of dominant religion by this devoutly alternative woman, but she has grown comfortable over time in talking about it with her grovemates. They welcomed her discovery of this connection, and the inner strength it brought to her and her practice. At first glance, her experience seems opposite to the religious dilemma of many, but her initial hesitation was really a lot like what so many of us go through when expanding out from the traditional religions of our families.

Most of us in the U.S. who now identify as Pagans grew up with a different tradition. For those from a Judeo-Christian background, it can be a daunting experience to step outside those boundaries and into a different way of seeing. For those of us who also grew up queer, quite possibly having been inside varying degrees of religious philosophy that called our sexual expression sin and instilled the fear of God in relation to all things Pagan is a serious 1-2 punch. You might well be caught in a dogma that told you there is only one true way. If you are feeling called to explore outside the lines, how can you move through your learned fears and get from the thought to the action?

The first time I bought a pentagram—a five pointed star, encircled, symbolizing the four sacred elements and Spirit—I have to admit, I was quite nervous. I felt in my heart that the small sterling pendant around my neck represented deep, Universal love and healing magic. But that little, irrational voice persisted… “No matter what I am feeling, is this actually the mark of the devil?” Putting time in working on the paths that call me allowed the fear to wane. It was different, yet nearly as odd when my devotion to Divine Consciousness found me honoring Jesus once again, having rediscovered that expression of light and wisdom in and through the beings of love I had come to honor.

Eventually, I got better at discerning what is true for me and what is imposed from another’s insistence—from any side of the religious equation. After all, what is the core of each religion, if not love? What is a religion but a path to the center of love along with a set of tools for help and celebration along the way? Why not find skillful, honest, and integrated ways to utilize all those tools that help us love the clearest and live the best?

Infinite numbers of seekers have realized the fabric of love, compassion, and enlightenment pervading all that is as the silence of The Buddha and as the pure love of the Christ. It has been found in an exalted Father-God and in Gaia, the living Spirit of the Earth Herself. You may find it in the named or the unnamed, a plurality of practices or a single tradition, Higher Self, or no-self.

There is no one answer or simple means to break through to a place of comfortable exploration. But as you begin to explore, consider giving yourself to the possibility that you may discover this: If you’ve been told of an “only way,” that one way may turn out to be whatever is suited uniquely to the longings of your own spiritual heart. Know that many, many seekers have walked the way of doubt, spiritual crisis, and emergence. In that, you are already a part of a beautiful tradition.

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Christiana Gaudet

The first time I met Tarot Grandmaster Christiana Gaudet, I believe it may have had something to do with an impromptu seasonal celebration ritual held in a hot tub.  Over the years, I’ve grown to love and trust Christiana very much, and we share quite a few things like dedication to spirituality, a penchant for discussions on grammar and usage, naturism, and a serious enthusiasm for music (Robin is to Devo as Christiana is to The Grateful Dead.).

A little over a year ago, Christiana began hosting an online show called Christiana’s Psychic Café, and decided to use my songs “Funky Bhagavate” and “Blessed Be, Namaste” as her intro and outro music.  She’s also invited me on the show to chat on quite a few occasions, so turnabout is fair play, as they say.  I am so glad Christiana has taken part in The Dream Between‘s 11 Questions interview series.  Here are some of her thoughts on science and mysticism, the rewards and business of writing and music, entrepreneurial spirit, and more.

1. Do you think of Tarot as an art? A system? A spiritual tool? I am interested in how you describe it to someone who hasn’t encountered Tarot at all.

Yes, to all of the above. One of things that fascinates me about Tarot is how unique it is in all the world, but how it is a part of so many worlds – art, culture, spirituality, and history.

Tarot is a book of spiritual wisdom in picture form that tells the story of human experience. Tarot is a collection of archetypes and symbols that can help us communicate with each other and with the divine. Tarot is a source of creative inspiration and a tool for magick.

2. How do you balance science and rationality with mysticism and spirituality in your life?

My belief system is grounded in the reality that I observe in my daily life, so there really is no disconnect between what I believe and what is obviously scientifically true.  I believe the sun will rise in the morning, and I understand the movements of the planets that make that happen. But I also honor the rising sun as a spiritual force in my life.

Nature is my Higher Power. I am face-to-face with God every day. I don’t need complicated dogma and doctrine to know, feel, and experience spiritual truth. When I observe nature I learn all I need to know about Higher Power.  I find spiritual power in the tides and the stars. I see the face of the Goddess in fire as it dances. I see the Four Elements, Earth, Air, Fire and Water, as spiritual forces operating in my life. The magnificence and improbability of the world around us lead me to conclude that a divine hand is at work. To me, science proves the existence of Spirit. There is so much order to the Universe, it seems a divine order. The more I learn about science the more I see the sacred nature of life.

I have an argument with many religions. If your doctrine doesn’t hold true to the obvious facts around you, it is time to change your doctrine. That’s an interesting concept given I believe that cards drawn at random can have specific bearing in a person’s life. But, truly, divination is as old as recorded history. Divination is something we do quite naturally.  The same is true with earth magick. What child has not collected rocks and shells from the beach, or sticks from the woods, knowing, deeply and inherently, that these items hold power?

3. You’ve written and published two books on the Tarot – Fortune Stellar and Tarot Tour Guide. Through those experiences, what are the most important things you’ve learned about the process of writing and publishing?

I learned that writing is an arduous task. If we only write when we feel inspired, we’ll rarely finish anything. If you force yourself to write whether or not you feel like it, the inspiration will come most of the time.

I also learned that writing is sometimes more about style than structure, and that typos are a fact of life.

I learned that publishing is rapidly changing. Whatever you knew about publishing in the past may not be true now. What we used to call “vanity press” is now “self-published” and is a viable avenue. The big publishing houses are crumbling, and self-published authors are actually making money.

I learned that unless you write a New York Times bestseller, the way to make money in writing and publishing is to be prolific. Yes, I am working on books three, four, and five right now.

Finally, I learned that books aren’t like fashion – they don’t have a shelf life. If you write a good book, that book will continue to sell year after year.

4. You and I connect a great deal around music and you’ve often incorporated music segments into your show, Christiana’s Psychic Café. What are you listening to lately?

The recent death of Pete Seeger has me revisiting my favorite folk singers. This week I’ve been listening to The Weavers, Pete Seeger, Holly Near, and Arlo Guthrie.

I listen to a lot of different genres. In terms of newer acts I like OneRepublic. Isn’t that cheesy? And I love Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. I think Grace has huge potential.

I’m a Deadhead.  I catch as many DSO, 7 Walkers, Phil Lesh and Friends, Ratdog and Furthur shows as I can. We always wondered what would happen when Jerry died. Well, what happened was a lot of smaller bands mushroomed from the one. Fan musicians made it their mission to carry on the music, so there are still plenty of opportunities for us to experience those songs played live.

5. Does music help inspire your writing, preparation for readings, or other aspects of your work?

I can’t have music in the background when I write – I am easily distracted by shiny objects. I love meditative music, and I love chanting. I use music in magick and ritual quite a bit. Dance is an important part of my spiritual practice.

6. As the music business we once knew has changed so much since the Internet Age, many artists are struggling to understand how it will manifest in the future. Any predictions?

The changes in music are similar to the changes in publishing. On one hand, everyone has access. On the other hand, there are so many voices it is hard to be heard.  I think one thing that is changing is there are more ways to be heard, and more ways to develop an audience. Often success will go to the diligent.

Where do I see things going in the future? I think there will be even more access to high-speed internet, recording technology, and marketing opportunities. I think the big labels, like the big publishing houses, will start to crumble. There will still be pop stars, but radio – the star maker of yesteryear – really is dying.

Right now, everyone who listens to adult contemporary knows the same songs. When Lorde won a Grammy, everyone knew the song. I see a time in the distant future where that might no longer be true. There might be so much variety available we will all listen to exactly what we like and we won’t all know the same forty songs.

In the meantime, my advice to artists would be three words: diligence, networking, and innovation.

7. Your show seems to have developed very organically and features many artists and practitioners who you know personally. How has this network of people come about for you?

When I agreed to do Christiana’s Psychic Café I knew I didn’t really have the time to take on such a project. I also knew I had a huge network of interesting people who would help me. Networks always grow. You were my very first guest. You, and many others, have introduced me to other people who have been great guests, and are now my friends. You are right about “organic growth.”

I have always been really good at bringing people together. I have organized festivals, huge parties, psychic fairs, and creative communities. It is something I do naturally. I am not as good at constantly nurturing a community. I am better at short-term projects and getting things started rather than tending them over long periods of time.  Social media has allowed me to stay in touch with people that I have known over the past forty years. That is a lot of people, and a lot of energy, on which to draw.

8. In your work, you not only maintain a private reading practice, but you create a weekly newsletter, host the online show, and hold periodic worldwide Skype teaching sessions. What are your practical methods of generating many varied ideas and holding it all together?

I am grateful each day that my work allows me variety, creativity, positive human contact, and spiritual fulfillment. I work very long days, but I take frequent breaks. When I feel overwhelmed or under-inspired I picture myself working a regular job. That’s usually enough to get me back on track.

I have a lot of interesting ideas. They often come to me in the shower. My biggest problem is remembering them, since I can’t write them down while I’m washing my hair! So, the practical methods I employ boil down to gratitude for what I can do, fear of not doing it, and being open to inspiration!

9. What is the most gratifying aspect of your work?

Unfair question. That’s like asking a mother which of her kids is her favorite.

When I was really young I knew I didn’t have the ability to tolerate routines, power structures, boredom, and creative limitations. I needed to create a life where I had real passion for my tasks, and control over what those tasks would be. So I did. That my work is my work is my greatest gratification.

10. Do you have any advice or wisdom for anyone in any field who is striking out with your kind of entrepreneurial spirit?

Plenty. You have to want it so badly you can taste it. You have to believe in it when no one else does. You have to be willing to suffer for it. You have to be willing to do what it takes to make it happen, even when your friends are mad that you can’t play with them.  If it were easy, everyone would do it.

When I was a theatre major at Baldwin-Wallace College for a semester I had a great teacher who said that success is the product of talent and tenacity. I think that is true for just about any kind of success.

11. What is the best course of action for creative artists in this Imbolc season?

Transform your fears, hurts, and disappointments into art. Let creativity be a source of healing for you, and let the depth of your pain energize your process. Let nothing be “good” or “bad” in terms of what you feel or what you produce. Experience everything as power, wisdom and beauty. Be free to heal, and free to create.

Visit:

Tarot by Christiana Gaudet

RobinRenee.com

This is apparently a good week for the number eleven! See yesterday’s post.

yule

 

I was prompted to make a quick recording of this to have it ready for the very first episode of Christiana’s Psychic Café this Sunday night at 9pm EST on livestream.  Christiana will play the video and we’ll have a chat. Tune in if you can – I can only imagine that this will be very interesting!

 

 

 

yule-log

I posted these lyrics on Facebook yesterday and am happy that quite a few people are enjoying them. I was just about to post it here earlier this evening, but started watching the 12-12-12 Concert for Sandy Relief that is going on at Madison Square Garden. Just then Adam Sandler came on and sang a Sandy-ized rendition of “Hallelujah” which was… well… interesting. So, it felt like pretty much perfect timing to share this here.

Here’s my perennial silliness meeting my love of celebration – a parody for the Pagan folk. And of course, Happy Chanukah, Merry Christmas, and Joyous times to all! Perhaps there’s a holiday album in my future… I am apparently accumulating the tunes.

The Yule Song

– to the tune of The Chanukah Song by Adam Sandler
Lyrical adaptation by Robin Renée

It’s gonna be so cool again, time to celebrate Yule again
Why not play the fool again and have some fun at Yule again

Yule is the holiday of returning light
The sun gets stronger after the year’s longest night
If you feel like the only one with no Nativity,
Here are some Pagan people just like you & me:

Robin Gibb’s wife Dwina was a Druid Priestess
Alice Walker knows what the Sabbat feast is
Do you wanna hear a Pagan while you’re driving in your car?
Tune in to Margot Adler on NPR

Not sure if his mom served tofu pups or brisket
But who was raised a Wiccan? Fred Durst from Limp Bizkit!

You don’t need Silent Night or The Chanukah Song
‘Cause you can rock with George Takei around the fire all night long (Oh, myyy!)

It’s gonna be so cool again, time to celebrate Yule again
It’s like a shiny jewel again, the sacred time of Yule again

Barack Obama – not a Pagan – It’s easy to perceive it
He’s not a Muslim either, but some people won’t believe it

And yes, she spent a lot of time speaking out for PETA
‘Cause Chrissie Hynde’s one badass vegan Pagan mamacita

Not everyone’s a Pagan who holds nature dear,
But I think Captain Planet is, and every Planeteer!

There are so many holidays that people find pleasin’
But remember Winter Solstice is the reason for the season

So don’t be a hooligan
Just spread the love at Yule again
And tell the kids at school again
It’s the lovely time of Yule again
I’m like a stubborn mule again
Determined to do Yule again
So feel the inner fuel again
And sing the songs of Yule again
The season is so cool
So have a happy, happy, blessed, happy Yule!

Robin Renée December 2012
www.robinrenee.com

yule blessings

Image

I began this blog last night.  It was going to be something very different.  As I woke up on this warmish, misty Ostara morning, it was as though all the things I was poised to worry about in writing had put themselves in order. Whether coincidental or a function of syncing spirituality with the seasons, I do feel balance on this Equinox.

The making of the new chant CD has happened in about as opposite as fashion as the last one as possible. The kirtans and other spiritual songs on Live Devotion came quickly, jumping into my head as I worked, drove, or sang other songs—anytime, and when least expected.  A few rehearsals, one long day in studio, and it had arrived.  I already knew that what we were affectionately calling “Studio Devotion” would be a more traditional recording experience, but I didn’t think it would be a year in the making.  Given that a lot of the year was pushing past emotional obstacles ad absurdum, I am happy to say that the gestation period for what will officially be called This seems just about over.  I would like to release it well – with some traditional and innovative promotion and viable distribution.  I’m open to suggestion from all quarters on how that may best happen.  In the meantime, it is a wonderful feeling to be just about through with recording and mixing and to feel the emergence of new spiritsong on the first day of spring.

A recent blog by my friend LauraLynn Jansen inspired me to reflect on “What is yogic?” Today, I believe it is the practice of remembering, of coming back to center, and living a life that allows all sorts of activities and interactions to be the instrument of balance.  Music, when I lose myself in it, does this work.  Lately exercise – especially swimming and biking – are just as much music to me, just as much a journey toward Center.  I am undertaking a sprint triathlon training, also inspired by LL.  I keep finding more and more depth in meeting the challenges.  I have considered the workout to be a form of meditation before, but it is new for me to think about fitness as art.  The metaphor of Oneness meets the day-to-day.

April is coming, and that means NaPoWriMo.  It may make me very busy, but springtime is emergence is yoga is staying in the flow of writing.

I am feeling like a fully erotic being again, after too long a hibernation.

The wild, scary, beautiful storm kicked up by taking on 30 poems in 30 days is still very much alive in me.  Expeditions for love, for cord-cutting and letting go, and for spiritual center run through it all.  So much is going on in ideas and emotions that it can begin to bring on a kind of paralysis.  I am not allowing that to take hold for long.  There is too much to do.  All of my projects – Robin Renée singer/songwriter, Robin Renée kirtan, The Mutant Mountain Boys, and various other creative drives are all clamoring for time.  Plus, some character named Devo Dan keeps bugging me to work with him.  ;- )  The many hours’ drive to and from Ohio this weekend for Mountain Boys rehearsal and kirtan at The Yoga Place was a welcome time for contemplation and decompression.  

 Writing daily forces me to get through my own crap- the lies it is convenient to tell myself- and I eventually have to get to something real.  This is where I want to live.  It is the middle of the well from which these creative impulses seem to spring.  I can’t say that I wouldn’t welcome a stable ledge on which to rest in this period that feels like a long project in unconditional truth-seeking.  Right now I am tumbling in the midst, and I choose to be ok with tumbling for now, capturing bits of the experience along the way.

 Last week, I really wanted to share the Phoebe Snow interview, so I preempted the NaPoWriMo poems.  Here are the rest of them.  Thanks for reading, for sharing your thoughts, for tumbling through. 

April 21, 2011

The New Trees Take Their Places

Evergreens stand over the yard’s back edge
And there is happy naked dancing for all seasons.
Summer will contend for the witchiest season of them all
With festival love and people who really like drumming.

I wonder what happened to the pissed off trees
And shame-riddled women clutching towels to hide themselves,
persecuted Pagans and the winter that never goes home.
No such luck for the erstwhile King and Queen of Angst.
Some of those folks never lived here, and the rest have flown back
to their lovely realms.

There must be words spoken
like tsunami, earthquake, and revolution.
I wonder what happened to those words.
They must have moved beyond the property line,
but they are remembered daily.

Evergreens stand over the yard’s back edge
Holding gallant space for solid ground,
Keeping watch over quiet growth and loud passion,
And there is happy naked dancing for all seasons.

April 22, 2011

Face the sticker-splattered wall,
part mural part disdain.
I would have endured.
Finding empty letter,
noting missing friendship ring
would have been too hard.
You’ve done me the favor.

April 23, 2011

World Café

The camera
The bit part
One toe in the drink
The harp
The sword
A pen still mightier
The listening corner
The open ears
A reverent envy
The rivalry
The spur
In the side of
New songs
Whatever it takes
To dive in

April 24, 2011

Toes recall wild grass,
Bare skin, sun, and air make love-
Nature’s Easter prayer.

April 25, 2011

A Different Ring

Regarding the ring:
You must wear it well
as you wear shifting speech.
Once your head is turned, flowery protest? Useless.
White gold or semi-precious, I don’t know. I’ve not seen
your finger or your face
in almost long enough.
Who would I be to stand
in the laced path
of the marriage of crisis to victim?
On the New Hope bridge,
you asked for my blessing on a ceremony.
It was another love, declared before meat-eating
Straight-acting, and the face of tradition
Took you on, a code of opposites.
Teacher, point your own way home.
Or not.
Who would I be to stand
in the overgrown path
of separation, mind from knowing?
Bodies- yours and mine
are not to touch again.
I take up scissors to cut the barky vine
can’t help but drop them still
thinking “Have it your way.
See you next life, then.”

I remember, to those who leave
I wave goodbye.
Somewhere in the dredged earth
is the reason to thank you
with a smile.

April 26, 2011

Which pointed buds give way to splayed white flowers,
Which dots will soon be leaves-
On the outside, there are teachings.
Inside, the chair before the desk-
Which wall needs waterproof steel blue paint,
Which bent-page piles most urgent.
Love released, received among proud dandelions,
First order of business.

April 27, 2011

If Found, Do Not Return

Empty shell
almost repaired
left for traveler
willing to give up
dense center
for hollow-handed love
or for king’s horse
in need
of sight gag.

April 28, 2011

Chocolate, Wine, & Porn

First thing I see are bed covers unraveled, like they’ve just enjoyed the ride, then there’s you, crimped brown hair, as avant garde undressed as in leopard print and vintage clogs,
I wonder if you’d let me really see you this way were I not imagining your story and you were not hiding in the arms of academia. I may be deep in the house of mistrust still
at least I imagine you, alone with dark chocolate, red wine, grainy porn, still-no-silicone video, hairy, hot and real. My brain stops here, I want to know what you do by yourself
and what with, times I’ve known you there is love and doors that close
on making love, sudden, no warning, no formula to break barriers.
Still, I believe you, once mistress of three classic pleasures, exciting
and dulling nerve endings, in your endorphin cocktail haze, lover,
may you have remembered me.
I remember your backpack at the bus stop, what your intent eyes knew,
your sleeping beauty on post-collegiate futon, how the three of us, that one time,
barely fit in the shower.
Want to fast-forward this stuck cassette, see what is now, what unstuck passion together might come beyond memory, beyond numbing, beyond the endorphin rush of running.
Pour me a pinot, I’ll bring the raw cacao.

April 29, 2011

Radius

Chant and dance move this night
Circular motion time intended
A love not actionable
Comes back around
A slow burn
Toward flame or fizzle
At any point
There is a straight line
To center

April 30, 2011/May 1, 2011

Garden earth green and floral
or warm city rhythm
If we do not drop our armor
on the eve of Beltane,
we lie by omission.

I plan to wed the summer
hand-held or solitaire,
make love in the field
of clover and thorn

www.robinrenee.com

One afternoon on Facebook, Preetamdas Kirtana posted something like “F*!k tolerance!  What if God practiced ‘tolerance?’  Practice love!”  “That should be a T-shirt,” I commented.  He said I ought to go for it – and so it is. => here   Thanks, Preetamdas, for the inspiration.  The Coexist movement is headed in the right direction.  I hope this bit of in-your-face yoga inspires many more to approach life from a place of love.

Last week, I was at Jack and Jenn’s working on the preliminary recordings for the next chant CD.  As the day to begin work drew closer, I felt as though I was cramming for kirtan.  I had to solidify ideas that had been floating along for months.  I needed to make decisions about instrumentation.  I wanted to strongly suggest to divine inspiration that a visit would be more than welcome.  “This is no way to approach bhakti,” I thought.  These sounds should emerge whole from pure love, unabated.  I was angry with myself for my process.  All music should be effortless, right?  I was angrier that I had been letting relationships and meekness and random distractions throw me off my game for too long.  How long ago had the trail branched off?  I realized that Virgo Obsesso, my inner critic, was at it again.  I noticed that sometimes I manage to coexist with the process it takes to live and grow and create.  Sometimes it feels farther off than that, and I barely tolerate my own mind’s changes.  Life is a meditation.  The point is to notice the straying, and return to center. 

Recognizing that the shirt’s message must first be realized internally – spiritually – emotionally – was a revelation.  Seeing this brought on an immediate shift.  There is time to remember the breath and time to extend compassion to the inner struggle.  Time to remember that music and art and awareness of spirit all show up where there is kindness to self.  All of us woo-woo types talk about “You have to love yourself.”  It was good to actually get it in that moment.  I’m sure I’ll forget again and remind myself.  Again.  As with any practice, the hope is that the cycle becomes gentler as we move along the path.

I am now quietly excited about allowing the new sounds through.  Seven new chants and spiritual songs are in the works.  Recording felt easy, as if it was happening of its own accord.  I love one song that I am so far calling “Blessed Be – Namaste.”  It is exceedingly simple and is a blessing that seeks to make a bridge where the Pagan and Hindu traditions in me meet.  The words and melody were sweet enough to show up the night before the recording session.  I believe that often the best thing one can do for anything musical or poetic is to get out of its way. 

Blessed Be and Namaste.  May we be good to ourselves and practice love in our travels.  May the reminders harm none and lead us back in those moments when love has been forgotten.

 I don’t believe in raking leaves.  On Sunday afternoon, the air was just chilly enough to coax me to admit that summer would not, in fact, be back until the wheel of the year turned again.  The leaves on the ground were a worn, welcome home blanket.  The ground is exactly the place they should be beautifying this time of year.  I thought of my friend from Tucson as I noticed the deep, red orange that still hung onto the sassafras and wondered how she would regard the seasonal shift.  I imagined that to someone who is amazed by the water flowing in East Coast rivers, these changes would be directly magical. 

In the Pagan traditions that have come to align with much of my spiritual instinct, Sunday was Samhain, the day that belongs to neither year.  I was preparing for the few people who would gather to celebrate the holiday.  I did my Halloweening the night before as a banana-clad Josephine Baker at Jack & Jenn’s Fright Night Party.  Samhain is a more somber affair, and we gather to honor and release those who have passed away in the year prior.  We listen for wisdom carried on the last of the October wind and whispered into our ears by the ancestors.  We welcome the coming of the new year and the Divine spark we will once again have the opportunity to recognize and embrace.  However literal or figurative a participant’s experience, these moments are meant for quiet reverence and insight.  It feels good to release what needs to go— to redefine, redirect, and get ready for what’s next.  I celebrate a new year whenever I can, though this time of year, it feels most serious. 

 The simple altar was set and thankfully, Vigile was more than happy to start and tend the fire.  That left me more able to finish preparing quinoa vegetable potluck, to relax into a ritual mind space, and to be ready to greet those who would arrive.  At six o’clock, we shifted ourselves into sacred space with a song, the smoke of white sage and the recognition of the four directions to mark our circle.  Over the course of the evening, the energy and love of God/dess was called and honored by Names most dear to each of us: Krishna, Ram, Brigid, Astarte, Jesus.   Everyone had a turn to speak the names and stories of those who had passed through the veil.  I remembered Frank Barnett, kirtan aficionado of Cleveland, a natural force for the drawing together of community.  Though I didn’t know him, I remembered Tyler Clementi and all kids who have died before they were able to grow out from under ridicule to recognize their worth and brilliance. 

We chanted for quite a while, and danced a little.  A young woman I met for the first time at circle asked me how I came to love chanting and to know about the Hindu path.  The question had me wondering: How have I gotten anywhere that I am?  The times of initial impact of all the most important aspects of my life feel like vibrant blurs of information, like sudden, unexpected downloads.  At its most genuine, my writing seeks to unpack and understand the visions, experiences, emotions, and intentional turns of the journey.  I keep trying for genuine.

These autumn days which I once resented on behalf of my beloved summer now find me loving their beauty and metaphor.  I welcome these changes, and the inner work that will follow.  I am ready for a time of gentle and courageous newness.

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