Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A Train Ride

I stood at the door, staring out at the night,
alone in the crowd, on the train that night.
The stops went by, the doors closed tight.
My panic rose and I had to fight
the fear that rose in my heart that night.
I felt something wrong, they thought it right
to travel to nowhere, forever in the night.
My heart stood still, I had to alight.
Back again to where it all began,
the doors opened up and I almost ran.
It mattered not that they felt fine
to stay on the train at the end of the line.
I stepped out with a heart so free.
Most of the others that I could see,
content to ride in the endless night.
The crowd seemed to feel that it was right.
I followed the few who left the train
and felt that all was well again.
We moved along in single file.
I looked and wondered all the while.
The big recycler stood alone.
I walked in and was instantly gone.
I watched and saw, overlooking the train
that it simply all began again.
The choice was mine to leave the train.
I need not ride again and again.
All I needed was to know
and the desire that I should go,
to leave the train and travel on,
to see their fate and find my own.

The Hunger Moon

I had planned to write an article about February when post about The Hunger Moon crystallized it for me.

January's Full Wolf Moon resonates with the howl of the wolf for me. Growing up in rural north-central Ontario, we had plenty of wildlife. It has now changed but I still remember the cold, crisp, starry nights of January, standing outside at the corner of the house and howling to get the wolves going. They would answer and continue as long as we did. The wonder and beauty would keep us out there until our noses and ears stung from the cold. This bitter cold winter takes me back to those sub-zero nights. We no longer have the great snow drifts covered by a thin crust formed in the January thaw. Each time we went out to play, we would be cautioned to stay away from the power wires. I have not seen such drifts in many years. I am grateful that we do not have the outdoor plumbing that we had in my childhood. I am also grateful to the friend who shared a midi of wolves howling with me.

I still find it the coldest and the brokest (after Christmas) month of the year, but I find February with its Full Hunger Moon to be the longest month. After December and January, the winter snow, ice, cold and shoveling have lost their charm. Tobogganing on a neighbor's hill and making a Fox and Geese track in the snow of the school yard, which lasted to spring melt had also become stale. So had skating on the river with a bonfire in the middle of the cleared ice. When the fire burned through and fell into the river, it was time to put away the skates and dig out the hoe.

I long for March, with its promise of spring to come. March seldom delivers on that promise, but year after year, I hope. I yearn for the first rite of spring, digging little channels from one puddle to the next, ultimately to drain away and dry up.

Over the years, I have devised ways to break up this long month of cold, snow and dark skies, and make the wait more bearable. One is to have a picnic, particularly if there are children around. Prepare all of the foods you would normally take on a summer picnic. Spread a blanket on the family room floor, topped with the picnic table cloth. Scatter the plastic ants, throw down some cushions and spread out the picnic. Everyone will enjoy the break and chat about great picnics past and those yet to come. With children, it is even more fun if you can make it a surprise.

Another thing I have done is to make a complete fondue meal with hot oil, cheese and chocolate. Put a door on low stools, spread out the cushions and prepare the fondue pots and the goodies to dip. Again, with it being on the floor, we tend to see it as extra special, and will linger over the food, both reminiscing and planning.

If anyone has other February events, it would be great to share them.
Note:From the Farmers Almanac http://www.farmersalmanac.com/full-moon-names

Full Moon names date back to Native Americans, of what is now the northern and eastern United States. The tribes kept track of the seasons by giving distinctive names to each recurring full Moon. Their names were applied to the entire month in which each occurred. There was some variation in the Moon names, but in general, the same ones were current throughout the Algonquin tribes from New England to Lake Superior. European settlers followed that custom and created some of their own names. Since the lunar month is only 29 days long on the average, the full Moon dates shift from year to year. Here is the Farmers Almanac's list of the full Moon names.

• Full Wolf Moon - January Amid the cold and deep snows of midwinter, the wolf packs howled hungrily outside Indian villages. Thus, the name for January's full Moon. Sometimes it was also referred to as the Old Moon, or the Moon After Yule. Some called it the Full Snow Moon, but most tribes applied that name to the next Moon.

• Full Snow Moon - February Since the heaviest snow usually falls during this month, native tribes of the north and east most often called February's full Moon the Full Snow Moon. Some tribes also referred to this Moon as the Full Hunger Moon, since harsh weather conditions in their areas made hunting very difficult.

• Full Worm - March Moon As the temperature begins to warm and the ground begins to thaw, earthworm casts appear, heralding the return of the robins. The more northern tribes knew this Moon as the Full Crow Moon, when the cawing of crows signaled the end of winter; or the Full Crust Moon, because the snow cover becomes crusted from thawing by day and freezing at night. The Full Sap Moon, marking the time of tapping maple trees, is another variation. To the settlers, it was also known as the Lenten Moon, and was considered to be the last full Moon of winter.

• Full Pink Moon - April This name came from the herb moss pink, or wild ground phlox, which is one of the earliest widespread flowers of the spring. Other names for this month's celestial body include the Full Sprouting Grass Moon, the Egg Moon, and among coastal tribes the Full Fish Moon, because this was the time that the shad swam upstream to spawn.

• Full Flower Moon - May In most areas, flowers are abundant everywhere during this time. Thus, the name of this Moon. Other names include the Full Corn Planting Moon, or the Milk Moon

• Full Strawberry Moon - June This name was universal to every Algonquin tribe. However, in Europe they called it the Rose Moon. Also because the relatively short season for harvesting strawberries comes each year during the month of June . . . so the full Moon that occurs during that month was christened for the strawberry!

• The Full Buck Moon - July July is normally the month when the new antlers of buck deer push out of their foreheads in coatings of velvety fur. It was also often called the Full Thunder Moon, for the reason that thunderstorms are most frequent during this time. Another name for this month's Moon was the Full Hay Moon.

• Full Sturgeon Moon - August The fishing tribes are given credit for the naming of this Moon, since sturgeon, a large fish of the Great Lakes and other major bodies of water, were most readily caught during this month. A few tribes knew it as the Full Red Moon because, as the Moon rises, it appears reddish through any sultry haze. It was also called the Green Corn Moon or Grain Moon.

• Full Harvest Moon - September This is the full Moon that occurs closest to the autumn equinox. In two years out of three, the Harvest Moon comes in September, but in some years it occurs in October. At the peak of harvest, farmers can work late into the night by the light of this Moon. Usually the full Moon rises an average of 50 minutes later each night, but for the few nights around the Harvest Moon, the Moon seems to rise at nearly the same time each night: just 25 to 30 minutes later across the U.S., and only 10 to 20 minutes later for much of Canada and Europe. Corn, pumpkins, squash, beans, and wild rice the chief Indian staples are now ready for gathering.

• Full Hunter's Moon - October With the leaves falling and the deer fattened, it is time to hunt. Since the fields have been reaped, hunters can easily see fox and the animals which have come out to glean.

• Full Beaver Moon - November This was the time to set beaver traps before the swamps froze, to ensure a supply of warm winter furs. Another interpretation suggests that the name Full Beaver Moon comes from the fact that the beavers are now actively preparing for winter. It is sometimes also referred to as the Frosty Moon.

• The Full Cold Moon; or the Full Long Nights Moon - December During this month the winter cold fastens its grip, and nights are at their longest and darkest. It is also sometimes called the Moon before Yule. The term Long Night Moon is a doubly appropriate name because the midwinter night is indeed long, and because the Moon is above the horizon for a long time. The midwinter full Moon has a high trajectory across the sky because it is opposite a low Sun.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Balance-The Mental Pillar

While reviewing the series of Meditation posts, I noticed that I had overlooked the Balance-The Mental Pillar. In the event that anyone is saving this series, I have copied it below.
When we get to the pillar of the mind, we need to consider what makes a healthy mind, and what part it plays in the total picture. The mind is an ultra-sophisticated computer and like a computer, it can not function smoothly without basic programming and input.
We need to open ourselves to a wide variety of experiences in order to enrich our data base, and be able to think about many different things. The mind that is active, exploring new ideas, learning new skills, thinking for the sheer pleasure of it is a healthy, happy mind.

We need to interact with others, learn communication skills, share knowledge to keep the mind working well. Without this, we can not search for what will make us whole. We become stagnant, stuck in the same old rut with only vague feelings of something missing, which leads us to the emotional pillar.

If we can not identify what we are searching for, we can make unwise decisions and choices in an attempt to fill that void. We can form unhealthy relationships, fall prey to extortive cults, suffer from long term depression, even become unable to function in our world.

Monday, January 14, 2008

On Anger ... Again

Again, I have been considering meditation in relation to the mask of anger. Those who know me, know that I firmly believe that anger isn't a true emotion, but rather a mask to hide true emotions even from ourselves.

There has been much discussion of anger around me again lately, and it's effects on both us and those we love, sometimes even tainting the love we feel for someone special.The particular comment that started me writing this was "Even anger must flow freely else it becomes dammed up and spills out inappropriately elsewhere." I agree fully with this, however I probably differ in the method used to direct the flow.

I was born a Leo, with the claws and fangs to prove it. In my teens, my anger was totally uncontrolled. I felt justified every time I took out my claws, sharpened then used them, with no regard for who it might damage. That was not healthy for me or the recipient of my rages, nor does it help to make and maintain good relationships.

One of the first things I had to learn as a young adult was how to tame the beast, and that is exactly what has to be done "tame the beast". You can not put it in the closet and hope it will go away. Things left in the closet tend to grow, it is pretty fertile in there, you know. You can not deny it's existence, it will reach out and bite you as soon as your back is turned. You can not break it like you might break a wild horse. (Wrong way to treat the horse too). You can not just wish it away, and you can not simply let it continue to let it rule your life, particularly if you have a relatively new partnership and a couple of sprouts, as prip calls them. Unfettered anger is hard on relationships and teaches children the wrong lessons.

For me, the saving grace was discovering meditation and the roads to discovery that it took me down. As soon as I started to dabble in it, my innate curiosity took control and I began to investigate the Eastern religions with a vengeance. I did not find the answers I was seeking but I did find the key to anger, at least for me. I became an "Anger Whisperer". I learned to go into the storm and seek the causes. Carved into the rock lintel of the Oracle at Delphi are the words "Know Thyself", which was my first clue. My readings from the book The Compassionate Buddha provided more clues. Many other books and investigations added more pieces to the puzzle, until I was ready to look beyond the obvious. The tools, I had to find myself. After taking the problems that anger causes into meditation, I began to look behind the face of anger to see what was hiding there, what the triggers were that let it loose.

That is when I really started to grow. I saw that each time I let anger out of it's cell, it immediately sprang to my defense, sheltering me from so many emotions that I did not want to own, let alone deal with. If I was afraid, anger would spring up and hide the fear, if I was embarrassed, anger would cover that emotion too, if I felt inadequate, anger was there to hide it from me. What a big task I had set myself..................I had to look at the bare, unpretty sides of myself that I did not want to have anything to do with, but if I was to tame anger, I had to go there.

I looked at my fear each time anger sprang up to hide it from me. As soon as I chose to examine the fear, anger subsided and slunk back into it's den. One piece of the puzzle solved. If I accepted that I had so many fears, anger left me alone to examine them. There was fear of pain, fear of failure, fear of discovery of my unworthiness, fear of being taken advantage of, fear of ridicule, fear of embarrassment, so very many fears that I had no idea I had. What a mess I discovered myself to be, but as they say, acknowledgment of a problem is more than half of the solution thereof. With a wee bit of faith, I began tackling the fears. Each one that I confronted and became familiar with faded into the background, or at least came to me without having anger clear the way.

The day finally came when I was able to look at a situation and say to the person causing me the pain "That really hurt me" while the tears streamed down my face, naked vulnerability where anger used to be. The biggest surprise was that the person causing my pain did not flare up with an anger even bigger than my own had been. They stopped in their tracks, amazement written all over their face as they looked at the whole situation in a totally new light. Both they and I had broken down a barrier to real communication. I am not saying that will happen each and every time one looks behind the mask of fear, because it will not. But it happens often enough that anger now plays a very small part in my life and I am really in tune with who and what I am. Those around me react in different ways, some run for the hills as fast as their little legs can carry them, screaming all the way, some pull up a chair and settle in to having a deep, rich, meaningful relationship, and others do a combination of both, while still others feel the magnetic charge before approaching and are repelled instantly. That's OK because I know that I am being true to myself and I can look into the eyes of the person in the mirror without flinching.
This growth, this owning of all of myself did not happen over night, it is the culmination of over 40 years of soul searching and making every attempt to become the best ME that I can be. Much of my poetry and observations comes from studying and examining both the human condition in general, and my own flaws and growth in particular.

As I near the end of my days, I can look back on my life with few regrets, knowing I have done the best I could with the knowledge and tools that I had, and I am not done growing yet. I am just beginning to understand what I see in the mist beyond the veil, and groping for the words to express what I see.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Fairy Godmother Department

We always wonder why we are not showered with good things when we start to consciously practice being the best person we can be. While the things we need are drawn to us exactly when we need them, other things we expect do not materialize. If, for instance, our motive for pursuing the Path is to win the lottery, your chances for success are slim. If you need to make next month's rent, the means will be provided.

When asking for help, we must remember to clearly ask for what we actually need and trust that it will be provided, probably in a way that seems least likely. Do not tell the Creator how to look after us, simply trust that we will be looked after.

I have always explained this phenomena with a bit of tongue in cheek, by explaining that the Fairy Godmother Department is staffed only by one little old lady in a rocking chair, knitting on her knee, kitten at her feet. She reviews the requests as quickly as she can, granting those that are legitimate, but the backlog is very large.

On the other hand, everyone wants to work in the Practical Joke Department, and many of them have a very strange sense of humor. Most gift refusals are channeled through them. Knowing this, it is probably a very good idea to really consider what we ask for before actually asking.

I have recently had experience with both departments. Twice just before Christmas 2005, my heart was artificially stopped and restarted in an attempt to return it to it's proper rhythm, the second time was successful. I can not pretend that I was not a little bit afraid, afraid of more pain, afraid of more suffering, but not afraid of passing over the final threshold in this life. I have stood on this particular threshold many times in the past, only to turn back and stay a while longer. I am not finished with this life, or at least it is not finished with me. Nor is the Practical Joke Department finished with me. Early morning on Christmas eve and my blood pressure was 205/109 with a pulse rate of 79, but it was steady and consistent, no flutter, so I got to go home in the afternoon. It was a reminder to slow down, take it easy and carefully as I started to regain my strength and resume my life.

Needless to say, preparations for Christmas were stopped in their tracks, no gifts bought or made and wrapped, no decorations up, very little special baking done............yet it was one of the best Christmases ever. My family's' only wish was that I would be home for Christmas, and I made it home just in time to curl up under the tree for Christmas morning. My very first experience at being a gift.

We never know how much we are loved until there is a danger of being lost. My family, both blood and chosen, dropped everything to come and see me even though it was hard to do. The love that surrounds me sustains me still.

My wish for everyone is to experience such love, and to recognize it when it is there. Do not let the sun go down on a quarrel, do not forget to tell those you love, just how important they are to you. The most powerful force in the universe is love, but it is easy to forget to show that love each and every day.

When I leave this world, I would like to work in the Fairy Godmother Department.

I Googled Me

A while back, someone pointed out that there were not many hits on Google's front page for me as Zareba. Most are for some fencing company in Europe, and none were for my book.

On a whim, I wondered if there would be any hits under ZarebaToo, which is my email name. I have been Zareba from childhood, but on the Internet, I discovered the name already taken, so I added the Too. To satisfy my curiosity, I just Googled me and came up with 149 hits on 10 pages..... me... all ... me!

I am sitting here laughing as I type this. I can't help but think it is a Cosmic joke. I have previously written about the Fairy Godmother Department and the Practical Joke Department, and about feeling like we are used as target practice. Had that person not pointed out the lack of references on Google, I would never even have thought about checking for Zarebatoo!

Here is the poem:

No One There

He uses us for target practice
Scoring near misses only,
Never a direct hit.
A direct hit would mean
That we could not be used
As targets anymore.
The funny thing is:

There’s no one there.

And I will repost the article about the Fairly Godmother Department in my next post.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Secrets of the Soul DVD

I have had the pleasure of reviewing this DVD and my comments are below.

“Secrets of the Soul” explores the search for the soul through history as well as the scientific quest for proof of the existence of a soul. The findings are presented in an impartial manner, neither promoting nor denigrating any of the theories it explores. It is eminently watchable, even captivating. I watched it with my adult daughter and she had the same response..

The first section, called “The Searchers”, documents the search through the ages, from ancient man to present day vision quests. It traces belief in an afterlife from the burial rites and cave paintings of early man, as well as compares religious and cultural differences around the world.

The second section is called “The Investigators”. It traces scientific investigation from the early experiments attempting to weigh the soul at the moment of death to present day investigation of mediums, near-death experiences, and people’s memories of an earlier life. Again, it puts forward no opinion, only the information they have gathered.

More information about the DVD can be found at http://www.secretsofthesoul.net/static.php?page=static071026-083752 or at http://www.secretsofthesoul.net/ as well as other worthwhile articles.