Painting Shadows and Light

Shadows in the Skin - Feb 2015I dusted off my paints this week

and lost myself

in the contemplation of colour and space.

With a photo of my younger self,

I struggled to create

The shadows on my skin.

But I lost my self in blues and browns

And touched the sadness in her eyes.

With a photo from my daughter’s youth,

Sunlight on Hair-Feb 2015I tried to capture

sunlight bouncing off silky hair.

But I lost myself in reds and whites,

And swelled with the joy in life.

I dusted off my paints this week

and lost myself

in the contemplation of time and place.

Posted in Writing | 3 Comments

Solitude does not Scare me

The Fence Shadow-KP-2015

The Fence Shadow-KP-2015

Solitude does not scare me.

I have worked alone for years.

Found peace in the quiet of my occupation.

Separate from the needs of others.

Mind focused, fingers flying.

Immersed in the creative act.

It is the unoccupied mind that terrifies me.

The quiet moments between things.

Between work and books,

family and friends.

Afraid of the quiet within.

The foolish words spoken,

The failures,

The regrets.

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Finding Beauty in Ceremony

feb 21 008She meditated less often than she should.  But when she did, she usually sat quietly with no props and little ceremony.  She knew she needed no building and no ceremonial items to touch the sacred.  But there were times when she longed for the beauty of ceremony.  Today was such a day.

She placed her turquoise blanket on the floor and sat down with her medicine bundle in front of her.  She unwrapped each item with care: a candle holder, a candle and matches; a pouch full of herbs – cedar, sage, lavendar and sweet grass; a large shell in which to burn the herbs; crystals and feathers; and a dissembled pipe with a bowl carved out of red stone and a long stem carved out of cedar.  She arranged each piece with reverence on a small brightly coloured alter cloth.

With her intentional movements, she found her mind settling into a calm, quiet place.  As each piece was placed on the alter, her spirits lifted.  She remembered a teacher saying that rituals by-pass the adult mind, allowing spirit to speak directly to the inner child.  With a smile on her face, she lit the candle and the herbs in the shell.  With her hand, she cupped the smoke and pulled it over the alter and around her body, allowing it to cleanse and purify her aura and fill her senses with beauty.

She brought the bowl and stem of the pipe together “in keeping with the two sacred laws”.  Using a pinch of tobacco, she spoke prayers aloud for each of the eight directions and the centre of the wheel.  With each prayer, she opened her self to the teachings of each direction; to fire, spirit and creativity in the east; to water, emotions and the love of children in the south; to earth, body and sexuality in the west; and air, mind, and compassion in the north.

With each prayer, her mind sunk deeper into her body; her fears and grief floated to the surface of her mind and melted into tears.  She touched the beliefs that continue to limit her and the judgements that she uses to separate her self from others. She sensed the energy field that connects everyone and every thing.  And she felt whole; bathed in beauty.

Posted in God & Universe, Healing & Compassion, Inspiration, Personal Growth, Spirituality, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Vision Quest

tree woman 002It was fall in northern Ontario.  The forest surrounding the lake was a riot of colour; the bright reds and yellows of the maple, birch and beech trees in bold contrast with the dark greens of the white pines and the spruce.  The air had a bite to it.  “It would be cold tonight” she thought, “but at least there would be no mosquitoes!”  Her skin was still warm and tingly from the Sweat Lodge.

She held her supplies in her arms; a blanket to sit on, rain gear, and her pipe.  She found her place in the forest; about 15 minutes from the main camp, beyond sight of the lake, and 50 meters off the trail.  There was an opening in the woods with several larges trees on the perimeter.  It felt like a circle.  She set her blanket near the middle, on a flat spot beside an outcropping of pink-streaked grey granite.  She opened her pipe with the prayers she has been taught.  Then, she stood in each of the eight directions to call upon their powers; to create a safe and sacred place. She would stay here all night; a time to re-connect with spirit; to seek guidance for her life.

She felt nervous as the sun set and the shadows grew; anxious about bears and other creatures in the wild of northern Ontario.  She felt frail and vulnerable, conspicuous, and out of place.  She sat quietly; trying to quell her fears; trying to quiet her mind; hoping to receive a vision or a sign.

She focused her mind on the question in her life.   She was 36 years old with a 2.5 year old child.  If she was going to have another child, she must do so soon.  But her son, who had been plagued with gastro-intestinal issues, had not slept for two consecutive hours since he was born.  The sleep deprivation was making her crazy.  She feared she could not handle another child.  She feared it would push her over the edge.  So, she was seeking guidance from the Great Spirit.

When she grew cold through the night, she stood, chanted quietly into the darkness, then visited each of the eight directions and spoke her prayers out loud.  As the night wore on, her mind grew quiet and calm.  She felt herself blending into the forest; her energy aligned with the earth and the trees.  She no longer felt conspicuous; she no longer felt separate.  She felt safe; she felt at home.  When the light filled the sky, she gathered her belongings, closed her circle with prayers of gratitude, and headed back to the main camp.  She felt tired but light and alive.

She reported in to her teacher, “Well, I feel wonderful but nothing happened; I received no visions, no messages, no signs.  But twice, when I was praying to the eight directions, I inadvertently skipped the northwest and had to re-trace my steps”.  Her teacher smiled, “The northwest is the direction of  Karma; it speaks to our purpose for coming into this life.  Is there something that you were born to do that you have been resisting?”

The woman burst into tears, with a knowing from deep within her being, “Give birth to a second child”.

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A Healing or a Coincidence

Winter Sunrise - KP - 2014It was 2001, she was living in her current home.  She had just learned that her Aunt –  the Aunt who was like a mother to her – had cancer in one of the salivary glands in her jaw.  The biopsy results had just come in; the surgery date was scheduled for the next week.

She was home alone and the house was quiet, so she gathered her medicine items. She lit a candle, filled her pipe with prayers, and dropped down into her body. She allowed the energy from the earth and the stars to cleanse her aura.  She encircled her body with layers of protective energy.  She visited her sacred place, an underground cave with red walls and woven carpets. She focused her mind on her Aunt – visualized her face, listened to her voice, felt the love that she held for this woman – and then channeled energy from the earth up through her body and out to her Aunt in the form of white light – “to be used for healing, in whatever form that may take, if her Aunt so willed it”.  She came out of this ceremony feeling that a connection had been made; that she had dropped deep inside herself; that her focus had been strong.

A week later, her Aunt had the salivary gland surgically removed.  Two weeks later, her Aunt learned that the post-surgery biopsy found no cancer.  When the doctor re-examined the original biopsy results, he concluded that an error had been made; that there had never been a cancer; that the tumor had been benign and may not have required surgery.

Her Aunt was enraged by this error; that she had undergone surgery for no reason; that she would live with the side effects all her life.  Her Aunt’s sister wanted to sue the doctor and the hospital for their negligence.  She calmed her Aunts; asked them to see this as a gift; asked them not to dishonour the gift with legal action.  But secretly, she wondered: “is this how it works?  If a healing had truly happened, is this how it would look?”

With time, this event has lost its power.  She has slipped back into her “western mind”, thinking of it as only a medical error that had a good turn out.  But every so often, she gets a glimpse of it through her Shamanic mind and she feels awe.  In the power of the mind.  In the power of the teachings.  In the beauty that connects us all – to one another and to the planet – when we open our minds to the possibility.

Posted in healing, meditation, Spirituality, Writing | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments