Blessed Imbolc

Jan 29, 2013

Spiritual But Not Religious

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.



"We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience." ~ Teilhard de Chardin


If it were up to me, I'd retire the phrase "spiritual but not religious." I consider it effectively meaningless. To my way of thinking, we can't not be spiritual. We are spirit. But I'm not being fair to the idiomatic meaning of that phrase, which could be more fairly stated as, "searching for meaning beyond the confines of organized religion."

However problematic the phrase, it is a growing trend. This seems to rankle a number of religious authorities. A quick search through the Huffington Post religion section brings up a fair sampling of disdainful diatribes against all these dilettantes who think they can have God without the hard work of religious practice in like-minded community. I read a number of these posts when they came out, sighed, and moved on.

There's Pastor Lillian Daniel who is sick and tired of hearing from anonymous strangers on planes that God can be found in sunsets. She just wishes the nonreligious would stop boring her with their irrelevant observations. And, no, I'm not overstating her tone. "Please stop boring me," is her subtitle.

There's Alan Miller's lightning rod of a post bemoaning the religious illiteracy of a populace that can't name more than four of the ten commandments. He casts religion almost entirely in Judeo-Christian terms and dismisses all else as superstition. A good rebuttal can be found here.

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"Why Shamanism Now?" with Christina Pratt

Darkness Guides Us to the Light

Who will guide us as we stand together with new allies: The Unknown, The Wild Heart, and The Tao, at the dawning of the New World crafitng the new Story of the People? What lights the way? "In the end the light of the Old World was the harsh light of judgment, the blinding light of righteousness, and the relentless light of monotheistic separation that drives us from all that naturally nourishes and replenishes the body and soul," explains host and shaman, Christina Pratt. "We must now find our way in the darkness to rediscover True Light, the Light that dances in ecstatic reciprocity with Darkness and gives life." Join us this week as we explore ways to use shamanic skills to enter the Shadow and gain access to transform the roots of the habits, additions, and unconscious patterning that limit our self-expression. These skills allow us to enter the darkest fears human experience offers and to see through the illusions that bind our hearts in mental unwellness, confusion, and depression. Finally Darkness is the path to the deep actions of self-care and self-love necessary to cultivate the internal richness needed to bring up True Light and the courage to express that light with creativity and humility in the world.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013 at 11:00 AM Pacific

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Jan 27, 2013

If I'm Not Free to Control You...

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.



"Religion is a FREEDOM. Let's keep it that way." No duh, huh?

My mother was fond of saying, "Your freedom stops where the next person's begins." It was her paraphrase of an aphorism of uncertain origin. It always stuck with me as a statement of one of the most obvious elements of a free society. So, I have been brought up short by the roiling debate over freedom of religion in this country. Last year Catholic Bishops threw down the gauntlet over President Obama's access to birth control mandate, taking the position that anything that infringes on their right to impose their beliefs on people who do not share them is a violation of the First Amendment. It is a thoroughly nonsensical position.

Now comes survey data that shows that evangelical Christians, in large numbers, view any erosion of Judeo-Christian dominance of the country as a threat to religious freedom. (???) Oh... and it's all because of "the gays."

While these Christians are particularly concerned that religious freedoms are being eroded in this country, "they also want Judeo-Christians to dominate the culture," said Kinnamon.

"They cannot have it both ways," he said. "This does not mean putting Judeo-Christian values aside, but it will require a renegotiation of those values in the public square as America increasingly becomes a multi-faith nation."

. . .

Asked for their opinion as to why religious freedom is threatened, 97 percent of evangelicals agreed that "some groups have actively tried to move society away from traditional Christian values."

And 72 percent of evangelicals also agreed that gays and lesbians were the group "most active in trying to remove Christian values from the country." That compares to 31 percent of all adults who held this belief.

The whole thing just makes my brain hurt.

Jan 23, 2013

New Investigation Into Warren Jeffs in Arizona

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.



The legal troubles for Warren Jeffs have not ended just because he currently resides in a Texas prison -- and  probably will for the rest of his days. Texas moved recently to seize the Yearning for Zion Ranch because it was used as part of a criminal enterprise -- the systemic rape of underage girls. Now the state of Arizona is moving against Jeffs and his church.

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne says there is an ongoing criminal investigation into a polygamous sect along the Utah-Arizona border.

. . .

A 26-year-old woman who claims Jeffs forced her into marriage at age 14 has now fled the group. She says she and her six children were held against their will for years.

Horne says her allegations of forced underage sex, among other things, are part of the ongoing case, but he declined to provide details.

The woman in question is Ruby Jessop -- sister of Flora Jessop, who left FLDS in 1986 and has been one of the sect's harshest critics. During his press conference, Horne announced that this 26 year old woman had recently won temporary custody of her six children after escaping from the Colorado City compound last year. He was flanked by the Jessop sisters and Ruby's six children. He explained Ruby's circumstances.

Jan 22, 2013

Los Angeles Bishops Conspired to Protect Abusers

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.



Well. I can see why the Catholic Church works so hard to conceal records of priestly sex abuse. When they come out, they're really damning. The latest case in point comes from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles where Cardinal Roger Mahony's written words have come back to haunt him.

Cardinal Mahony has issued a number of apologies concurrent with the rolling disclosure of sex abuse on his watch. His most recent mea culpa was issued yesterday as an avalanche of personnel files was released under court order. This follows the release of private letters detailing a deliberate cover-up.

Mahony assures us that he now comprehends the gravity of his failings and he's very, very sorry. Previously, he really did not understand the pain caused by sex abuse. He had his come to Jesus moment when he met with some ninety abuse survivors, over a three year period, and had to look them in the eye.

"Those visits were heart-wrenching experiences for me as I listened to the victims describe how they had their childhood and innocence stolen from them by clergy and by the Church," Mahony wrote, ending his statement, "I am sorry."

Now that he better understands, he says, he has the names of each of those survivors on note cards and prays for them daily. So that's nice.

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"Why Shamanism Now?" with Christina Pratt

Shamanic Art of Reciprocal Exchange

If the New World is to be different than the one before then we must learn to ally our minds with paradox. We must see the deeper truth that the nature of our world-and our selves included- is the living expression of complementary dualism in which two opposites co-exist in harmonic wholeness. And as they transmute each other we experience true renewal or passionate expression. Join host and shaman, Christina Pratt, as she explores the essence energies we must ally with on our journey to change our thinking and behavior and align with the necessary Dreaming of the New World. One of the many great gifts of a regular shamanic journeying practice is that the journeyer is immersed in the logic of the Tao. In our journeys and our interactions with helping spirits we are constantly asked to see-or tricked into seeing-the reciprocal exchange of energies that is the heart of complementary dualism. When we finally understand that all energies within our selves are opposites of another energy, also present though often denied within our selves, we will begin to be able to show up as co-creators of the New Story the Earth is singing.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 11:00 AM Pacific

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Jan 19, 2013

Mona Lisa on the Moon



Sure. Why not?

Call it the ultimate in high art: Using a well-timed laser, NASA scientists have beamed a picture of Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece, the Mona Lisa, to a powerful spacecraft orbiting the moon, marking a first in laser communication.

The laser signal, fired from an installation in Maryland, beamed the Mona Lisa to the moon to be received 240,000 miles (384,400 km) away by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has been orbiting the moon since 2009. The Mona Lisa transmission, NASA scientists said, is a major advance in laser communication for interplanetary spacecraft.

"This is the first time anyone has achieved one-way laser communication at planetary distances," David Smith, a researcher working with the LRO's Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter — which received the Mona Lisa message — said in a statement. "In the near future, this type of simple laser communication might serve as a backup for the radio communication that satellites use. In the more distance future, it may allow communication at higher data rates than present radio links can provide."

Jan 15, 2013

Must See Graham Hancock Lecture

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.




Marvelous, marvelous, marvelous, presentation by Graham Hancock. I've read nearly all of Hancock's books and listened to countless interviews, and yet, there were delicious surprises in this lecture for me.

Needless to say, I totally agree with Hancock's take-down of Richard Dawkins. Dawkins uses his Oxford credentials to lend credibility to totally unscientific arguments. I tire of saying this but you cannot prove a negative; you can only fail to prove a positive.  But I think I've made my own views on this dogmatic, proselytizing atheist clear here, here, and here.

Hancock also gives a wonderful overview of the Gnostic beliefs in Sophia's error and how this resulted in the Demiurge and the Archons. He also explores the use of shamanic tools to free the mind from archontic manipulation.

He also spends a good bit of time on the correlations between alien abductions, shamanic experiences, and faerie lore. This is a theory that he also lays out well in Supernatural. Another lecture on the subject can be found here.

Of course his discussion of Egypt and the Giza pyramids is thorough and beautiful. That's to be expected.

This is a fairly long presentation and worth every minute of it. I was riveted.

Viking Mystery



Archaeologists closer to solving the riddle (???) of why the Vikings left the barren wasteland that was Greenland after the end of the Medieval Warming Period.

For years, researchers have puzzled over why Viking descendents abandoned Greenland in the late 15th century. But archaeologists now believe that economic and identity issues, rather than starvation and disease, drove them back to their ancestral homes.

. . .

As the research shows, hunger could hardly have driven the ancestors of the Vikings out of their settlements on the edge of the glaciers. The bone analyses prove that, when the warm period came to an end, the Greenlandic farmers and ranchers switched to a seafood-based diet with surprising rapidity. From then on, the settlers focused their efforts on hunting the seals that appeared in large numbers off the coasts of Greenland during their annual migrations.

. . .

Although the descendants of the Vikings had adjusted to life in the north, there were limits to their assimilation. "They would have had to live more and more like the Inuit, distancing themselves from their cultural roots," says Arneborg. "This growing contradiction between identity and reality was apparently what led to their decline."

Or...

Niels Lynnerup, an anthropologist and forensic scientist at the University of Copenhagen, confirms that the Vikings of Greenland had plenty to eat even as the climate grew colder. "Perhaps they were just sick and tired of living at the ends of the earth and having almost nothing but seals to eat," he says.

Works for me.

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"Why Shamanism Now?" with Christina Pratt

Laying Souls to Rest in Vietnam with Dr. Edward Tick

Vietnamese shaman, Nguyen Ngoc Hoai, speaks to the souls of the dead in her country. In this way she and a Society of Shamans have located the remains of 10,000 soldiers, allowing the families of the dead to lay these wandering souls to rest. Join our guest Dr. Edward Tick, host, Christina Pratt, and her Vietnamese guests. Dr. Tick, the author of War and The Soul, rediscovered the archetypal path necessary to heal the unique wounding of war by working effectively and deeply with traditional shamanic practices in the indigenous cultures of Greece, Native North America and Vietnam. Through his non-profit organization, Soldier's Heart, Dr. Tick uses psycho-spiritual, cross-cultural, and international reconciliation practices to bring healing to veterans, communities and nations recovering from the traumas of war. He and his guests from Vietnam join us for the next Society of Shamanic Practitioners sponsored interview. In this series we explore how contemporary shamans are meeting the challenge of their world where the relations of things are profoundly out of balance. How are these shamans meeting this extraordinary need today?

This week's guest:
Dr. Edward Tick

Edward Tick, Ph.D., is Founding Director and Senior Clinician of Soldier's Heart: Veterans' Safe Return Programs. Honored for his groundbreaking work in the holistic and community-based healing of veterans and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Dr. Tick has been a psychotherapist for 33 years, specializing in working with veterans since the 1970s. He is the author of Sacred Mountain, The Practice Of Dream Healing, The Golden Tortoise, and the award-winning book War And The Soul.

Nguyen Ngoc Hoai is a Vietnamese shaman and medium who uses ESP to communicate with the wandering souls of the dead. She had a life-threatening illness 15 years ago and came out of it with the ability to accurately see and hear the souls of the dead. She has located hundreds of MIA remains using her gifts. She has just published a book in Viet Nam, called "In Another World" about her more interesting or difficult cases. She has located remains of Laotians and Indonesians as well as Vietnamese and is willing to work with American MIA families.

Nguyen Thi Minh Thai is professor of communication and journalism at Univ. of Social Sciences and Humanities in Ha Noi, leading culture and art critic in Viet Nam, poet and author of many books.

Tran Dinh Song, this the translator and representative for Soldier's Heart and journey guide in Viet Nam for 12 years. He is a cultural liaison, former teacher, humanitarian and healer.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 11:00 AM Pacific

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Jan 12, 2013

The Changing Face of Christian Evangelism

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.



Tammy Faye was a woman ahead of her time. May she rest in peace. As discussed here, her son Jay Bakker has been on the vanguard of a movement towards a far more tolerant evangelical Christianity. In fact, his name was floated recently, by a GLAAD spokesman, as a reasonable replacement for Rev. Louie Giglio to perform the Inaugural Benediction. Giglio was pushed out when his homophobic record came to light.

There are more and more indicators that the sexual politics traditionally associated with the evangelical movement are falling out of favor. Not just with the Presidential Inaugural Committee, or with the military (the Marine Corps in particular), or with the society at large, but with the evangelical community itself. While evangelical Christianity has attracted youth in large numbers, younger evangelicals are not rallying around the sexual morés of the old guard. Even those who accept those values on a personal level, don't want to their social agenda to be defined by them. From Buzzfeed:

Ricky, a 21-year-old evangelical Christian college student, isn't necessarily committed to abstinence before marriage: "If two people are in love and are willing to take the next step, I believe God would approve." He respects both sides of the abortion debate, but thinks churches shouldn't have a say in the matter. And he's an enthusiastic supporter of gay marriage; he thinks Christian opposition to it will be "a black eye on our religion for decades."

He may be progressive, but Ricky isn't alone. A variety of experts say young evangelicals care less and less about the issues of sexual politics — abstinence, abortion, and same-sex marriage — that their forebears brought to the center of the political conversation. And churches that keep focusing on these issues may risk becoming obsolete.

A study released in December by the National Association of Evangelicals found that 44% of unmarried 18-29-year-old evangelicals had been sexually active — but the study defined "evangelical" as someone who attends church at least monthly, believes Jesus Christ is the only path to salvation, and believes the Bible "is accurate in all that it teaches," requirements that may leave out some who still consider themselves part of the group. Another study puts the figure at 80 percent. And a recent poll found that 44% of 18-29-year-old evangelicals favor same-sex marriage, lower than the national figure but much higher than their elders.

Jan 11, 2013

German Catholic Bishops Scuttle Sex Abuse Study

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.



Reuters is reporting that a criminologist retained for an independent study into sex abuse cases from 1945 through 2010 was fired when he clashed with church hierarchy. In a statement, Bishop Stephan Ackermann blamed Christopher Pfeiffer's communication style for their loss of confidence in him and said they would be seeking "a new partner." 

Somehow, the idea of hiring a "partner" to do an "independent" study strikes me as incongruous. Indeed, Pfeiffer has claimed that the arrangement fell apart when church officials attempted to change the original agreement, demanding veto power over the publication of results.

"Everything was settled reasonably and then suddenly came ... an attempt to turn the whole contract towards censorship and stronger control by the church," said Pfeiffer, head of the Lower Saxony Criminological Research Institute.

Tellingly, Bishop Ackermann says more or less the same thing, except that he claims it was Pfeiffer who misinterpreted the agreement, foolishly thinking he could publish his results without their permission.

Jan 10, 2013

A Tale of Two Anglican Churches

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.



Here in the US Capitol...

The Washington National Cathedral had been ready to embrace same-sex marriage for some time, though it took a series of recent events and a new leader for the prominent, 106-year-old church to announce Wednesday that it would begin hosting such nuptials.

The key development came last July when the Episcopal Church approved a ceremony for same-sex unions at its General Convention in Indianapolis, followed by the legalization of gay marriage in Maryland, which joined the District of Columbia. The national church made a special allowance for marriage ceremonies in states where gay marriage is legal.

Longtime same-sex marriage advocate the Very Rev. Gary Hall took over as the cathedral's dean in October. Conversations began even before he arrived to clear the way for the ceremonies at the church that so often serves as a symbolic house of prayer for national celebrations and tragedies.

The Episcopal bishop of Washington, the Rt. Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, authorized use of the new marriage rite in December for 89 congregations in D.C. and Maryland. Each priest then decides whether to marry same-sex couples.

Jan 9, 2013

The Increasingly Blatant Symbolism of Doctor Who

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.




"There's no point in being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes." ~ Doctor Who


A while ago Stephen Fry made waves when he bemoaned the infantalizing nature of BBC programming and characterized Doctor Who as "not for adults." Perhaps Fry, for all his many talents and artistic sensibility, is one of those hardcore atheists who has no appreciation for the power of myth. Admittedly, I haven't spent a lot of time on the mythical underpinnings of the show, although I did explore one episode's point towards indigenous creation mythology here

I will also give Fry benefit of the doubt and assume his comments in 2010 pertained entirely to the pre-Matt Smith years. There is no question that with the massive production changes after David Tennant's departure, came a more interesting, and I dare say, more adult show. Smith, as an actor, has more depth and gravitas than Tennant. (Christopher Eccleston was also brilliant and I took his departure hard. I know. I know. David Tennant was the most beloved Doctor ever. Blah, blah, blah... whatever.)

Not only is the writing under Steven Moffat darker and edgier, there has been a peeling away of the veils that obscured the core mythos. It seems rather obvious in discussing a show that opens with a trip through a wormhole, that we're talking about alchemy/kundalini/stargate mythology. But with the recent Christmas episode, "The Snowmen," key archetypes were even more blatant than they were in the London Olympics. Even the advertising was provocative.

Jan 8, 2013

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"Why Shamanism Now?" with Christina Pratt

The Wild Heart in the New World

There has been a great domestication of the heart in America, numbing and dumbing down the voice that should guide us. It is the rare individual today who knows the path of his or her heart, who is fearless in feeling the passionate emotions of a spiritual adult, and who finds the courage of heart, discipline and devotion, day in and day out, to get off the couch, out of the office, or unplug from the Internet and take the steps to make their soul's purpose happen. Loving openly is considered foolish and following the heart considered weak or weak minded. However, if the Story of the People is to change and support us in creating a qualitatively different world, then we must ally ourselves once again with our Wild Hearts. Join host and shaman, Christina Pratt as she explores what we must do in our own lives to subvert the need to control that runs throughout the Old Story enforcing separation and attend skillfully to the Shadow energies that are actually the very path back to our Wild Hearts. The Wild Heart ally brings us to the intimacy necessary for true nourishment, sustaining pleasure in our connections, and a primary relationship with our True Self.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 11:00 AM Pacific

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Why Shamanism Now? on Co-Creator Network
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All episodes are now available in the iTunes Podcast Library.

Jan 5, 2013

Ad Campaign Reclaims "Jihad"




#MyJihad is to learn a little more about the very misunderstood religion of Islam.

A new series of ads from the Council on American-Islamic Relations' spinoff group My Jihad promote an awareness campaign directed at redefining the widespread conception of the meaning of the controversial word. The advertisements are slated to run on 35 city buses throughout the month of January,

"The intention of the campaign is to educate our fellow Americans on what the word 'jihad' means," Zhara Billoo, the executive director of CAIR's Bay Area chapter, told ABC 7 News. "A common misconception of the world 'jihad' is that it means armed struggle or holy war...The proper meaning of jihad, as many of us frequently describe it, is 'to struggle' and that's it...For many that means building relationships with their neighbors to making it to work on time or doing better on their diets."

Billoo explained to The Huffington Post that her organization has seen an rise in anti-Muslim attitudes across the country in the past few years and this campaign is an effort to counter that. "We're troubled by how the word 'jihad' has been hijacked by people who...have made careers out of pushing anti-Muslim sentiment," she said. "For too long people outside the Muslim community have been telling us what our religion really teaches."

Jan 4, 2013

Religious Abusers in Prison Maintain Strict Authority

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.



Incarcerated FLDS leader Warren Jeffs is maintaining an iron grip on followers even as his prophetic proclamations fail to manifest. I say that only because it's 2013 and the world hasn't ended.

“The consensus seems to be that Warren is indicating that by the end of the year, the end of the world will be here," Brower said.

A CNN reporter dispatched to the community's main enclave in Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah, was rejected by FLDS members who refused to speak to him. Meanwhile, the abrupt closing of the area's only grocery story and "central gathering" point for the community has added to fears Jeff's followers are gearing up for doomsday, according to the report.

The global cataclysm appears to have been rescheduled after an earlier prediction that would have ended the world on December 23rd also failed to pan out.

Jan 3, 2013

The Problem Is Choice

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.



Where the writer ends, the director begins.
Where the director ends, the actor begins.
Where the actor ends, the audience begins.


That old adage -- no I don't know the source -- is a reminder of something crucial that extends far beyond the world of theater. Put simply, you can't control other people. Worse, if you try, you suffocate both life and art.

That fundamental truism popped into my head today when I read a post in The Awl entitled "Advice is Futile."

After editing an advice column for two years, I’ve decided that there is no such thing as advice. There are only problems and the ways people handle them. Advice, on the other hand, is when you hear a description of someone else's problem and then tell the person something about yourself. Hopefully whatever you say is funny or interesting, but it has little to do with actually helping anyone. It may seem or feel like it does, but there are always more variables than we'll ever be able to see or understand, and best case scenario you’re pressing on the problem a little bit in a way that engages the problem-haver.

. . .

Because either the asker doesn't take the advice, since everyone just does what they want or are otherwise going to do anyway, especially if it's cheat on their boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, or wives (oh my god, you should see the inbox; at first it was sad but now it's actually kind of comforting that everyone’s the same), which can create a rift between the advice-giver and the advice not-taker. Or they take the advice, except that's not particularly helpful, either, since it strips them of the opportunity to learn the lesson first-hand (presuming there is one), which you already have (again, presumably). And telling someone to trust you blindly can come off as condescending. Or like wrapping a finish-line ribbon around someone’s chest instead of encouraging them to run the race. Kind of. Maybe? I don’t know. More on how little I know in a moment.

Jan 1, 2013

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"Why Shamanism Now?" with Christina Pratt

Engaging the Unknown as an Ally

We stand at the dawning of the New World envisioning the journey ahead, the co-creation of a world different than before. Who are our allies on this quest of creation? The first and unexpected ally is The Unknown. "If we cannot change our cultural story about the Unknown as the enemy that must be defeated," explains host and shaman, Christina Pratt, "we will never see through the blindness and hear the whispers through the deafness of the Old World's Story." The Unknown as ally is a place of peace, of not needing to know. This opens us to wisdom, especially the wisdom that lives outside of the cultural story, the wisdom we do not yet know. Opening our experience to unknown wisdom engages the journey to the Great Mystery. Contact with the Great Mystery renews our wonder in All That Is and our belief that a new story is possible. Join us this week as we begin to gather our allies here in the heart of winter and listen for the new story the earth is singing.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013 at 11:00 AM Pacific

Log on to Listen
Why Shamanism Now? on Co-Creator Network
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