Category Archives: Books

A LOOK AT SYNCHRONICITY

 Buddha

Years ago when I returned to Buddhism and began meditation, I opened a door which, even after ten years, remains open. We can call them synchronistic events (SEs), meaningful coincidences. They come and ping in my environment especially when I’m working intensely on something. The easiest examples to share have to do with my writing. When I was writing INTO THE LAND OF SNOWS, all manner of Tibetan symbols and objects showed up in my environment. Where before I knew nothing about Tibet, and relatively little about Buddhism, I started to see various things each and every day. Sometimes it was funny. Sometimes it was alarming- what did it mean? Why was it happening? Thankfully, my immediate family was supportive and I explored various ideas before finally embracing the idea that these events were like warm embraces from the universe.

Synch

Enter psychologist, Kirby Surprise who has written a book called Synchronicity- The Art of Coincidence, Choice, and Unlocking Your Mind. He was about to challenge my warm, fuzzy world. Has he won or can we come to a… middle way? Some believe these coincidences are tied to archetypes and Jung’s collective unconscious. Others see the hand of God or some unifying force at work. In Surprise’s career, he has seen clients attribute these “signs” to Gods, saviors, demons, devils, nature spirits, people with extraordinary powers, ETs, ghosts, and/or secret agencies or governments. Our psychologist proposes an alternative. We cause our own SEs because the universe mirrors us. Therefore, what we project is what we get. Many mystical traditions (becoming co-creators) and science itself seems to support the idea.

Current theories of quantum physics play with the idea that the universe has 11 dimensions. In N Space, there are an infinite number of parallel universes. And then there is M Space which has probable universes. Brain activity as thoughts and powered by emotion, move across these spaces creating change. In a sense, we exist in in infinite number of alternative and probable universes all at the same time. The changes we create in these universes ripple back to us as SEs. We are indeed very powerful- but limited according to Surprise, because we can only travel so far. Rhine’s early parapsychology experiments at Duke University seem to suggest we influence our world by 3-5% and that may reflect a typical SE. However, there are exceptional cases of SE which are life changing and may be more in line with a 60-90% change.

stage

All well and good. So what can we do with SEs? Why are they important? SEs give us insight into who we are and how the world functions. For those attuned to SEs, they shake up our world and force us to look at the big questions- who are we, what is the nature of reality? Surprise cautions us here because whatever our belief structure is, meaningful coincidences will conspire to confirm it. Believe a loving, powerful God underlies everything, he shows up. Believe the devil is at the heart of your misery, he’s there too. How about a shadow government conspiring with aliens to take over the world? Suddenly, conspiracy theories are everywhere and intruding into your daily life. While SEs are often fun and exciting, they can also be scary and throw your world into chaos. The trick here is to maintain a sense of humor without believing everything we are being shown. We are the actor on the stage as well as the playwright.

Not that everyone is happy with the book. Surprise does explore the idea that SEs point to deep connectedness, but he is pretty tough on organized religions sometimes putting it on the level of his patient’s other delusions. And while he does admit that SEs can be powerful at times, he tends to dismiss their overall importance. I think he’s done a good job in opening up some speculation on how the mechanics of SEs work, but he may have only part of the story. We need magic and mystery.

Image by: Kevin McGill

Image by: Kevin McGill

Surprise’s book gives some exercises to try so that you can create thoughtforms and see what happens. He goes to great length stressing that everyone has this ability, but many aren’t aware of it. You can live a full life and never recognize SEs- but for those of us who do, it will permanently shift your frame of reference. All spiritual paths tell us this, once you open the door and step through, you can never go back. Some are not up to the journey.

 

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Part II: THINGS THAT GO BUMP IN THE NIGHT

Sir Robert Ottley, Royalist

Sir Robert Ottley, Royalist

 Continuing with JH Brennan’s, Whisperings: The Secret History of the Spirit World, I wanted to mention the research conducted by Dr. A.R. G. Owen a few years after Bacheldor’s work. A Canadian research group led by Owen wondered if they could create a ghost.

Working a lot like fictional writers, the group created “Philip” and gave him a whole history. Philip had been a Cavalier officer during the English Civil War and had resided at Diddington Hall (a real place). The story of his life was a fabrication and went like this. Although Philip was married, he had an affair with a gypsy girl which had enraged his wife. The wife managed to have the girl denounced as a witch and burned. So distraught was Philip that he threw himself off the battlements of the hall committing suicide. Poor Philip!

Diddington Hall. Photo: John Evans

Diddington Hall. Photo: John Evans

The group held séances for a year trying to contact the Cavalier with no luck. I think it’s pretty amazing they’d keep at it that long with no result. One of the group eventually read Bacheldor’s work and wondered if a lighthearted atmosphere might make a difference. Giving it the old college try, they sang and told jokes, and oddly enough, after a few more séances, things started to happen. They heard their first rap and the table slid across the floor. Success at last! Encouraged, someone asked if Philip was doing it and was answered back with a loud rap. Having contacted the entity, the group used the one knock for yes and two for no method, to go on to communicate with Philip. Phillip affirmed the basic facts of his fictional life story and went on to reveal additional details the group had not created. The séances also produced various physical phenomena. The most spectacular was recorded for a television program. A table climbed a set of steps joining the panelists being interviewed.

Battle of Marston Moor, 1644

Battle of Marston Moor, 1644

I’ll leave you to ponder the significance of the Philip research. As a fiction author, I’m already concocting plots about how the other side conspires to have a good laugh at Owen and the other sitters.

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SHAKING MEDICINE by Bradford Keeney

Shaking Medicine

Bradford Keeney’s book, Shaking Medicine, takes us into the heart of healing with ecstatic movement.  While the East and West delights in powerful, relaxing healing modalities of meditation and acupuncture, Keeney bravely asserts we are missing the other half of healing medicine- the shaking forms of arousal from Africa and other cultures.  Mostly absent from our culture are the healing techniques of The Shake and it’s time we got over our prejudice.  Keeney believes that it is only when we fully cycle through being hyper-aroused and then deeply relaxed, can we powerfully realign and evolve in a pattern consistent with holistic medicine.  Fifty years ago or so, meditation was new and seen as a fringe movement and now it is so accepted and commonplace, doctors recommend it.  Keeney predicts Shaking Medicine is coming west and it’s healing benefits will be open to all.  At first I wondered about that, but my latest foray into my local meetup groups, revealed that there is a group dedicated to ecstatic dance.

Of course, some of the hurdles for society to overcome are the immediate associations we have for those shaking.  Historically scholars (and the general public) have associated ecstatic movement with mental or neurological disease.  Some would even go so far as to say evil or satanic, but most of that is either blatant prejudice or cultural ignorance.  There is also a fear of being out of control that western cultures so value.  Conformity and predictability are pillars of our society, what would happen if everyone shook?  Would we….lose it?  And those still prevalent fears have led Keeney to call shaking The Last Great Taboo.

Photo by: Justin Hall

Photo by: Justin Hall

So what is shaking all about?  Simply put it’s an experience, a journey into the ecstatic state brought forth by trembling joy.  You tremble, quake, and shake losing control and entering into healing and transformation.  Like other mystical practices, you surrender to higher authority and wisdom.  For Keeney, it’s the thing most missing from our spiritual table in the West.  Cultures who practice it value it for its ability to renew and restore vitality.  It takes us into the unknown and connects us to life in all its forms.

Assembly of Quakers, London. Engraving.

Assembly of Quakers, London. Engraving.

This is a book I truly loved.  I knew nothing about the subject and enjoyed visiting the diverse cultures Keeney portrays.  Lest you think shaking is confined to the African continent, Keeney starts out with a tale about settlers in the Pacific Northwest and later the Quakers and Shakers all of whom participated in ecstatic movement in pursuit of spiritual growth.  Keeney has strong ties to the Kalahari bushmen earning the title of Heart of Spears, a title of respect acquired by learning and experiencing their shaking medicine.  Some of the other cultures explored in the fascinating book include the: Spiritual Baptists of St. Vincent (Caribbean), African American Church, Seiki Jutsu (Japan), and Hindu/Buddhist traditions (India).  The book comes with a CD and instructions to begin your own journey of discovery.  Highly recommended!

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INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR: SHAMAN ELIZABETH HERRERA

Shaman Elizabeth Herrera

Shaman Elizabeth Herrera

Shaman Elizabeth is a healer whose life has been filled with miracles. She is dedicated to helping others believe that miracles are possible and encouraging them to accept these wondrous gifts for themselves. She offers healing and spiritual advising to promote physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. With deep connections to the Divine and help from enlightened guides and teachers, Shaman Elizabeth accesses your spiritual Self through the visionary process of shamanic journeying (Native American spirituality) to heal and offer guidance.

shaman-stone-soup-cover-large

For those unfamiliar with shamanism, a shaman is a person who accesses the spirit world for the purpose of divination or healing. Shamanism is ancient drawing from multi-cultural roots throughout Asia, Africa, Australasia, and the Americas.

Elizabeth is another author I had the good fortune to connect with through blogging and I’m so glad I did! She has several books published and today we will concern ourselves mainly with a discussion of Shaman Stone Soup. This book is an account of her spiritual life and healing experiences over the course of her spiritual development. It is a delightful, engaging read for both those on a spiritual path, and those interested in the shared human experience.

Welcome Elizabeth and thanks for joining me to talk about Shaman Stone Soup!

Hello! It’s an honor to be featured on your website.

In Shaman Stone Soup, you talk about being an unlikely, and perhaps, reluctant candidate for shamanism. Can you talk a bit about how this path emerged for you?

It was totally unexpected! Although I knew I was searching for something, I never expected it to be Native American spirituality (shamanism). I went from being a Christian to an atheist to discovering shamanism.

When I first began shamanic journeying (communicating with spirit guides in the spirit realm), I didn’t believe the visions were real. All I knew was that every few weeks I would hear a persistent call asking me to journey, which I couldn’t ignore. It was like someone kept knocking on the door of my consciousness and the only way I could get them to stop was to journey.

Two years went by before I asked for a healing for a friend. When the healing came true by morning, it caused me to reconsider the “reality” of what I was seeing in the spirit realm. To see if it was a fluke, I asked for healings for friends, neighbors, people on TV or whomever I thought needed a healing, and the healings would occur just as the spirit guides described. Still filled with doubt, I wondered if I was psychic and simply being shown the future. An opportunity to prove these were miracles came very quickly. My husband was diagnosed with Crone’s disease during this time. It’s a treatable, but not curable, disease with Western medicine. He was in tremendous pain, weighed about 115 lbs., and couldn’t work or do much of anything. I finally asked him if I could request a healing for him. He agreed, probably because he was desperate, since he didn’t (and still doesn’t) believe in a higher power. During the healing, the spirit guide said my husband would be well within two weeks. The spirit guide also said the illness wouldn’t bother him again, but that my husband would always carry a “sign” of it with him. And, just as the spirit guide promised, my husband was fine within two weeks and never had an episode again. Two doctors felt he must have been misdiagnosed and performed additional tests, but both tests proved he did indeed have the signs of Crone’s, but was non-symptomatic.

My book, Shaman Stone Soup, details 20 stories of miracles, including this one.

A Chakapa used by a Peruvian Shaman

A Chakapa used by a Peruvian Shaman

Shaman Stone Soup makes shamanism easily accessible to both those who know about shamanism and those who don’t. Readers have also pointed out that the book really explores universal themes, which unite us all in the human experience. How can an exploration of those human experiences (the search for self, growing love & understanding, practicing forgiveness) bring about a wider audience for understanding the shamanic path?

Not sure if this answers your question, but I believe shamanism, ACIM, Reiki, religion, yoga, meditation, etc. are all tools that help open our consciousness to the Love that surrounds us. My only goal is to fully know Love. Shamanism provided a portal to Love. It’s not the only modality that offers this, but it is the oldest-known spiritual practice.

A spiritual path doesn’t have to follow any specific practice. It could be as simple as loving everyone who comes your way. Everyone we meet is an opportunity to see the divine within them. When we see the divine in others, we remember it in ourselves.

Do you have to believe in miracles to have one happen to you? Does it help? How can openness to spirituality help us in our daily lives?

Considering I performed healings for five years as an atheist, I guess you could say faith isn’t required. The only requirement is to ask for a miracle, then step out-of-the-way. The higher power will do the work.

I meditate daily (or almost daily) to connect to the loving energy. When I do, I am peaceful, centered and have direction throughout my day. It’s a moment-by-moment thing. You don’t reach a state of bliss and stay there without focus and devotion.

How did A Course in Miracles (ACIM) add to your spiritual journey?

A Course in Miracles (ACIM) answered a lot of questions for me, such as: Why are we here?”, “How did we get here?” and “Where are we going?” which I’m sure would have been answered eventually through shamanic journeying. The Course saved me a considerable amount of time, which is what the Course is about…reaching enlightenment sooner. Oddly enough, ACIM is perfectly compatible with shamanism. The two spiritual paths seem very different on the surface, yet their truths are the same.

Saami Turist Rune Drum Photo by: Petr Broz (2007)

Saami Turist Rune Drum
Photo by: Petr Broz (2007)

How do your power animals facilitate your healings?

My power animals guide me through the spirit realm, taking me to the spirit guide who is best suited to perform the healing. Power animals can be helpful for providing archetype power that instills a person with the energy/confidence they are lacking.

In my book, one of the stories talks about a deer totem animal that appeared in a healing for a client. The next evening, I believe this archetype power saved my life or at least prevented serious injury. Below is an excerpt that explains:

During a shamanic healing session for a client, her power animal appeared as a herd of deer, which was surprising because a power animal usually appears as a singular animal/bird/fish that represents the species as a whole. At the time, it seemed interesting, but not overly important.

The next morning, the client sent me a message that her sister had emailed her an inspirational video of a deer. It was a wonderful “coincidence” that helped to confirm the healing for her.

That night, after returning home late from a friend’s home, I called my sister to stay awake while driving on the desolate highway. She lived out West, so while it was close to midnight in North Carolina, it was only 9:00 p.m. in Nevada. We had talked for 10 minutes when she suddenly became extremely nauseous. She said that it was odd, since she had been fine all day. She needed to end the call and we said good-bye.

A few minutes later, while driving down the highway, I came over a hill and was confronted with a herd of deer crossing the highway. I looked in every direction for a path to avoid them, but there was no visible escape route.

I remembered thinking, “There is no way I won’t hit those deer!” I expected to hit not just one, but several deer, and I surrendered to the inevitable.

Suddenly, my body had a mind of its own! A presence took control of me and slammed my foot on the brakes, the screeching sound filling the night air. Time began to move in slow motion, and as I passed a deer on my left, I looked into his wide eyes that were staring back at me. He was so close that I watched the side-view mirror miss his antlers by inches. When he was safely out-of-the-way, my hand cranked the wheel sharply to the left to dodge the deer on my right, who kindly took several steps in the opposite direction to avoid being hit.

Now, I was driving in the bumpy, grassy median and was about to plow into another deer in front of me, when my hand swerved the wheel back to the right, narrowly missing the doe. I was back on the highway and looked in the rearview mirror to see the deer still standing there stunned. The two cars in front of me had their brakes on, no doubt wondering if they would need to stop and call 911. But, when they saw me putter along the highway unharmed, their brake lights went off and everyone resumed driving.

Time returned to normal and I began to take assessment of what had just occurred. Unscathed, I first thanked God for saving the deer’s lives. Then, another mile down the road, I realized that I could have been killed and thanked him for saving mine!

When speaking with my sister the next day, I told her it was a blessing in disguise that she had gotten nauseous, or I would have had a cell phone in my hand when I encountered the deer. It would have been nearly impossible to avoid hitting them with only one hand on the wheel. She replied that it was the weirdest thing, but shortly after getting off the phone, the nausea went away. Divine intervention is a wonderful thing!

White-tailed_deer

The Meaning of the Deer Power Animal
The archetype power of the deer power animal offers many attributes, among them are the following: Manifesting for a higher good, surrendering to the Divine will, and the ability to move with intention, complete awareness and speed while remaining centered. It also represents abundance, the advent of new adventures, and the power of family or group dynamics.

If someone were interested in learning to shamanic journey, how would you advise him or her to proceed?

Find a teacher. I offer lessons in the Raleigh, North Carolina area, but Sandra Ingerman is a well-known teacher and healer who has a great website that lists teachers throughout the world. My teacher happened to be taught by her as well. If time or money is an issue, Sandra has a book, Learn to Shamanic Journey that takes you through the process.

Can you tell us a little about your latest book?

My latest book, Dreams of Dying, released this January. It features a mother who vacillates between two lives…before and after a tragic car accident that kills her family. As she struggles between realities, Jesus Christ suddenly appears and offers her unorthodox guidance. He accompanies her to the grocery store and for walks on the beach, while answering life’s toughest questions. His answers challenge her traditional beliefs and repeatedly emphasize there is no death, only dreams of dying.

Dreams of Dying is found in the visionary fiction genre, but it’s a difficult book to categorize because, although it features Jesus, it’s not Christian (much like my life!). If someone is exploring the concept of Oneness or ACIM, they’ll love Dreams of Dying.

dreams-of-dying-front-cover

I’m working on my third book, Earth Sentinels, which is also visionary fiction and will release this spring. It offers compelling insights into current environmental concerns woven into a fictional story. Its filled with characters, such as the fallen angel Bechard, Master of the Elements, shamans, spiritual beings and earth’s creatures, who collaborate using supernatural powers to fight against greed and corruption, demanding that mankind changes its way…or else.

The idea for the Earth Sentinels started while eating breakfast with my family at Burger King. Nobody was talking, so I thought I’d liven things up with an impromptu story. In a scary voice, like one might use over a campfire, I described animals attacking mankind in retaliation for all the damage to earth. When I finished, my gentle 14-year-old daughter exclaimed, “Yes!” and clenched her fists. It then occurred to me that I might be onto something. I wrote it for adults, but I am considering a second version for young adults.

earth-sentinels-cover

Thanks Elizabeth for sharing your experiences and introducing us to the fascinating world of shamanism. For more information about Elizabeth’s work please visit her social media sites. 

www.shamanelizabeth.com (healing site)

www.shamanelizabethherrera.com (author site)

www.blog.shamanelizabeth.com

https://twitter.com/ShamanElizabeth

https://www.facebook.com/ShamanElizabethHerrera

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ENTER TO WIN A FREE COPY OF INTO THE LAND OF SNOWS

IntotheLandofSnows_200

OK readers, I’m down to my last ARC (Advance Reading Copy). All you have to do is leave a comment below to be entered. There are a couple of rules, though. I’m only going to be able to mail to a location in the US. Comments will close midnight (MT) on Wednesday, Feb. 5th (2014). I will conduct a random drawing at that point and notify the winner. Enter only once. Since this is the year I’m focusing on abundance, tell me something about abundance in your life. Good luck to all!

Feb 6th:  Thanks for all your wonderful comments.  I conducted the drawing and the winner is: jenion.

 

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INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR SKYWALKER STORYTELLER

Ultimate Wonder Cover jpeg copyThe Ultimate Wonder: World Stories Illuminating Death by Skywalker Storyteller 

Skywalker is a storyteller, writer, poet, and nurse. She has lived and worked in many places in the US. Currently she resides in Homer, Alaska (the “cosmic hamlet by the sea”) where she participates in the circle of life by delivering babies and caring for those who are dying. Skywalker’s latest book is called The Ultimate Wonder, World Stories Illuminating Death. I found her online recently when I posted the piece on the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Her book contains a wealth of wisdom about death drawn from cultures throughout the world. In many ways, it’s a very brave book given that we live in a society that avoids any discussion of death. I hope readers will seek out this unique book and bring these stories into their own lives to open up a dialogue about death. Skywalker has done an amazing job in selecting these tales and retelling them in a way that makes their inherent wisdom accessible to us all.

Welcome Skywalker and thanks for agreeing to do the interview!

Skywalker Storyteller

Skywalker Storyteller

I haven’t come across a book with a collection of stories about death before. How did the idea for the book come about?

Ellis, thank you for inviting me to talk about my work. You are right, when I researched books on death, I could find nothing like The Ultimate Wonder, even among storytelling collections. It evolved from a storytelling program I did as podcasts on my website a couple of years ago.

In December, we commemorated the anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. That event touched many of us in a deeply profound way and you dedicated this book in part to the victims. Can you talk a little about how it affected you?

I was working as a school nurse in an elementary school when that tragedy occurred. So, I really felt the loss, the horror, the sadness. But, I also saw it as a reflection of this country failing, as individuals and as a society, to recognize our responsibility for such crimes. That this country continues to hold the “right” to own a gun above the commandment to treasure life only assures we will continue to endure these tragedies. Yet, on the spiritual side, whether one believes in Christ’s heaven or Buddhist reincarnation, none know the merit and grace those sacrificed earned. However, we, the living, are the ones left to grieve and to strive to prevent such disasters. Only through our own courageous efforts to create a society that recognizes that guns are more dangerous than cigarettes or drugs to our society and that everyone needs to be guided with wisdom and compassion.

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I love that you grouped your stories by theme (Death is a Nurturing Woman, Die Before We Die, Laughing in the Face of Death, Death Embraces Everyone, Resurrection). Did you specifically go looking for stories to explore each theme or did your favorite stories just tend to fit the themes?

These are stories I had told or wanted to tell over many years. Some I have never told because people do shy from stories about death – and that is why I chose them. When I did the podcasts I used different groupings. The themes developed as I looked at the stories I had chosen and found I could group them by the similar themes they possessed.

Does your experience as a nurse give you a different perspective on death than maybe most of us?

Nurses learn to accept death’s reality more easily than other people, even more so than doctors. We try to relieve the suffering of people whom we know are dying, sometimes even before doctors or family members want to admit what is happening. Being a nurse, I have seen that intractable pain and invasive procedures – that do not lead to wellness – can be worse than death. And I have seen a restful peace on the face of many immediately after death.

I naturally loved the stories you chose from the Buddhist perspective. Which stories resonated with you the most and why? Do you have a favorite you love to perform?

Among my favorite are the Buddhist and the African stories. I like Kisa Gotami because it is short and I think a story that can be used to comfort anyone, especially those losing a child. Three Wondrous Answers is one I’ve told several times. It’s important because it speaks of the importance of recognizing that all we have is now in life and we should not squander it. Transcendence is special to me because it is a love story. For that same reason I really like the African stories too, because they combine both love and death. But I like to perform all of the stories.

Photo by: James Heilman, MD

Photo by: James Heilman, MD

We live in a society that shies away from talking about death. How can your collection of wisdom stories help open a dialogue about this largely taboo subject?  

Another reason I decided to write this book, was a comment I received from a friend who listened to the podcasts. She told me one of the stories helped her to talk about death with her little niece. I know that these stories, just by their nature, will open up a dialogue because that is the power of story. So, I’m really trying to market the book more, and eventually want to produce a print version. In addition, I’m making some informative free brochures to offer people to open dialogue and help them prepare for the end of life.

Can you tell us a little about your previously published book? Are you working on another book at present?  

I actually have two other published books. My chapbook of poetry, I Am That We May Be, was published by Third World Press many years ago. I’ve posted a lot of those poems on my blog and eventually intend to release another book of poetry. My other e-book, Illimitable Beauty, is a Kindle Single. It’s a novella in which a woman has out-of-body experiences which take her around the world, into deepest spaces of the universe, and down beneath the earth’s surface. These experiences lead her to realize the power of her own diamond consciousness.Illimitable Beauty Cover

I have several ideas for other books – but right now, my primary goal is to lead readers to The Ultimate Wonder. So, my next haiku project, I’m working on now, for my WordPress Blog, is 365 haikus on the theme of the ultimate wonder.

People can learn more about The Ultimate Wonder and obtain informational brochures by visiting my website, http://www.skywalkerstoryteller.com

You can follow my blog – http://rigzenchomo.com

Oh, yes, The Ultimate Wonder, World Stories Illuminating Death is available, currently as an e-book only, at all on-line retailers, for direct links just visit http://www.skywalkerstoryteller.com

Illimitable Beauty is available on Amazon Kindle Books.

Thanks for the invitation Ellis.

And thank you Skywalker for all the gifts you bring into the world!

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SHAMAN ELIZABETH Joins Me for Author Interview- Get her FREE Book Now

FREE “Shaman Stone Soup” eBook — Limited Time!

Shaman Stone Soup

Shaman Stone Soup

Shaman Stone Soup is an Enchanting Memoir Featuring 20 True-Life Stories of Miracles. It’s available free on Amazon.com during a special promotion on January 4-8 (Kindle eBook) to help promote her new release, Dreams of Dying.

In Shaman Stone Soup, Shaman Elizabeth Herrera shares personal stories of spirit guides, angels, and enlightened beings answering calls for help through miracles. You’ll read about the spirits of ancient wise men who provided a miraculous cure from cancer for a friend; Elizabeth’s vivid dream of a pastor who needed guidance and their later “chance” meeting; a client’s husband, who was visited by three spirits showing him the past, present and future; and many more!

“Unique and captivating!” — Awareness Magazine

“Clearly written from the heart.” — Sandra Ingerman

“Beautifully written and heartfelt stories.” — Hal Z Bennett

Shaman Stone Soup will take you on a journey to the mystical side of life, where miracles and healing are natural occurrences. 

FYI: the Kindle app can be downloaded to computers and smart phones.

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WELCOME BACK FRANCIS

 

St. Francis, 13th Century

St. Francis, 13th Century

A couple of years ago I listened to one of those Great Courses lectures on St. Francis of Assisi. I patiently waited through all the talk about his early beginnings, his military experience, his illness, his rejection of society, and his eventual creation of a new order. Most of it was dry and rather matter-of-fact. Where was the meat? Where was the mystical Francis I’d heard about? Where were the stories, the hagiography, that made Francis one of the most loved and recognized saints of all time? I walked away from the lectures shaking my head in disappointment. It wasn’t until later that my reading caught up with the reality. I had been very naïve believing a history and art professor would ever broach the subject of mystical experience. It wasn’t done; even an academic degreed in comparative religion would shy away from this discussion. How sad because isn’t that what many of us hunger for?

Francis has whispered from time to time to me. A statue in someone’s garden, the visit of the Pope this fall to Assisi, a well-known spiritual teacher planning a workshop there, St. Francis hospital visible from my new house. Then recently, Pope Francis was proclaimed Time’s Man of the Year. Francis is present in ways he hasn’t been in a long time. What can a twelfth century saint have to say to the modern world? Maybe a lot.

St. Francis in Ecstasy Caravaggio, 1594

St. Francis in Ecstasy
Caravaggio, 1594

Let’s dispense with the relevant historical details (and don’t worry it won’t take twelve lectures) to seek out a deeper meaning for Francis in our time. Francis was born Giovanni di Pietro di Bernadone around 1181. Born into a wealthy merchant family, he enjoyed all the advantages of his station and even went off to war fighting for Assisi. Some kind of vision compelled him to return home where he subsequently lost his zeal for the kind of life he’d been previously living and he began to reject it. He left his father’s silk business, took to serving the poor and lepers, and gained a following. Francis eventually went on to found the Order of the Friars Minor, the Order of St. Clare, and the Third Order of St. Francis.

It was in San Damiano that Francis had a powerful mystical experience which was to frame his life’s work. While praying before an icon, he had a vision of Jesus who spoke to him and said, “…go and repair My house which, as you can see is falling into ruins.”  Francis’ interpretation resulted in him raising money to repair the physical church he was in. Of course, Francis’ mission was not a literal one and called him instead, to restore the institution of the Church.

Stigmatization of St. Francis Matthias Kargen, 1664

Stigmatization of St. Francis
Matthias Kargen, 1664

Although never ordained, Francis’ calling was manifested in a simple life of poverty emulating the life of Christ. His followers were “To follow the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ and walk in his footsteps.” He was devoted to his spiritual practice and at times would withdraw from life to develop it. He had guiding visions throughout his life, was seen levitating, and was the first recorded person to receive the wounds of Christ (stigmata). Francis was a mystic, but he was also a mystic who brought back what he learned and shared it.

St. Francis leads the wolf of Gubbio. HJ Ford, 1912

St. Francis leads the wolf of Gubbio.
HJ Ford, 1912

Two of the most widely known miracles told about Francis involve his ability to work with animals. In the town of Gubbio, a wolf threatened the townsfolk. Francis intervened and made a pact with the wolf. Thereafter, the wolf remained peacefully near the village and the people fed it. The other story concerns an incident where Francis was trying to preach over the noisy chatter of swallows. He asked the birds to be silent and to the amazement of the crowd, they did. That famous story is the reason why Francis statues and art depictions often have a bird. Francis is the patron saint of animals and the environment.

As we draw near to Christmas and many churches display a nativity scene (Francis is credited with creating the first nativity scene), I hope you will remember a simple saint who lived an exemplary life devoted to poverty and service. His mystical connection to the Universe (God, if you prefer) was the powerhouse of his practice.

For More:

Canticle of the Sun: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canticle_of_the_Sun

St. Francis Peace Prayer: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prayer_of_Saint_Francis

Book: The Life and Prayers of St. Francis

http://www.amazon.com/Life-Prayers-Saint-Francis-Assisi/dp/1484938984/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1387403109&sr=1-1&keywords=st+francis

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Filed under animals, Book Review, Books, Spiritual/Mysticism

INTERVIEW WITH NAOMI C. ROSE, AUTHOR OF:

WHERE SNOW LEOPARD PROWLS

Tibetan Wildlife Cover.2.indd

This is my first author interview and it seems fitting to welcome Naomi as my first guest. We met several years ago when I was first working on Into the Land of Snows. Naomi was a children’s author/illustrator who had already published a book on Tibetan culture and I sought her out for guidance. She graciously supplied it. I am happy to welcome her here to talk about her fourth picture book entitled Where Snow Leopard Prowls.

Thanks, I’m very honored to be your first interviewed author!!

NaomiRose

Naomi, your first three picture books dealt with Tibetan culture and Where Snow Leopard Prowls marks a change for you. This book is all about wildlife on the Tibetan plateau. Can you talk about how your vision shifted and you were drawn to paint these images?

I’ve had the joy of creating books for children for many years. Two of my previously published books are wisdom tales from Tibet. Several years ago, while painting the illustrations for these books, I found myself painting more and more Tibetan wildlife into the scenes. And as I painted, I felt more and more endeared to these animals. When I finally painted a snow leopard, I knew the animals were calling me. It was time to create a book for and about them. 

I’ve always thought of picture books as a child’s first introduction to art. The time and care that goes into the production of a picture book is amazing. How long was it from the time you decided to write and illustrate this book until you held it in your hands? What was the process like?

I think it was about five years from conception to birth. I really try to give each book the time it needs, to let the inspiration, the art, the book itself lead the way. When I first felt the call to do a book on Tibetan wildlife, I envisioned an activity book. But when I had completed that, I realized there was something more wanting to emerge. So I switched gears and created a full 32-page picture book. Then I posted the activity book as a free companion book off my website.

Baby Leopard

The paintings also evolved in an interesting way. I painted Snow Leopard’s portrait first. To my surprise, I felt very compelled to paint Snow Leopard’s eyes before any other feature. This was NOT how I was taught to paint portraits, but I couldn’t resist the urge. Once the eyes were painted, it felt like Snow Leopard was watching me paint, and guiding me on various details of its portrait. This turned out to be the case with each portrait, culminating in a deeper connection with each animal. 

Some of the animals in the book readers may be familiar with but there are some that were new for me. I’d never heard of a Himalayan Tahr, for example. Was there an animal you researched that was totally new to you? I know the book is full of animal facts and I wonder if there is anything in your research that surprised or even shocked you.

Many of the animals were new to me. Himalayan Tahr is a good example. I don’t remember what drew me to this particular animal, but somehow Tahr popped out at me as I studied the animals and the land of Tibet. Once Tahr showed up on my radar, I had to paint it and give it a place in the book. That’s sort of how it went. I think the animals found me as much as I found them. I had great fun learning about them and finding fun tidbits to put in the book. They’re all so amazing!  These animals became so personal to me that I had to treat them as individuals, thus referring to them by name (“Snow Leopard” instead of “a snow leopard”).

You’ve talked about the importance of having children connect with wildlife. It is in that connection and caring that we may be able to do a better job protecting whole environments. Can you outline a few of the factors that threaten some of the species in your book?

That’s a really interesting question because I ended up choosing to not study those factors.  When I first worked on the book, I focused on how these amazing animals were at risk of extinction as a way to motivate children to care for Mother Earth. Then I realized that approach wasn’t right for me.  I wanted to motivate from the same place that motivated me to do the book, a growing personal connection. I believe that’s another way to motivate; by fostering a love, respect, and connection with wildlife and nature, children will naturally grow to care about Mother Earth and her precious animals. In hopes the book has motivated children to care, I’ve listed things we can do to help in the back of the book. I’ve also listed activities for cultivating a personal connection to the natural world. 

Baby Monkey

My favorite illustrations were the baby snow leopard and the red panda. What animal or animals were the most fun for you to paint and why?

I loved painting them all, of course. But I had a special fondness for the baby animals. They are all soooo cute!  And painting Mama Snow Leopard was especially powerful.  I invite folks to see more of the animals in the short video on my website:  http://www.naomicrose.com/books/wslp-books

Thanks, Naomi for sharing your wonderful book with us. Please visit Naomi’s sites to see more of her beautiful work.

Website link(s):  http://www.naomicrose.com

Facebook:  www.facebook.com/naomicrose

Youtube: www.youtube.com/user/naomicrose

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WHO WANTS TO BE NORMAL ANYWAY?

“The trembling in academic journals over how science must be falling apart because of positive evidence for psi is a desperate attempt to maintain a stable worldview where psi can’t exist.” Dean Radin, PhD

Welcome back old and new friends. It’s been a while and I wanted to share something I’m really enjoying. I’m reading Supernormal by Dean Radin. From the mystical side I’ve known that many (if not all) spiritual traditions hold that spiritual progress, especially through meditation practice, directly leads to the emergence of what we commonly call psychic ability (PSI). And these traditions also warn the seeker not to be distracted or side-lined when it happens because the spiritual path’s goal is Truth or union with the Universe (God, divine, Absolute, Reality, etc.). Leave it to scientist Dean Radin to put this to the test.

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About two thousand years ago, Pantanjali (The Yoga Sutras) wrote in rather cookbook terms that if you sit down and quiet the mind and dedicate yourself to this practice, you will eventually gain supernormal powers (siddhis). Elementary siddhis as outlined by the text include telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, and psychokinesis. And to open your mind further, Pantanjali goes on to discuss the more advanced siddhis of invisibility, levitation, invulnerability, and superstrength (homage to comic book superheroes here). Are you still with me or are you rolling your eyes and scoffing? I sense a few of you are… smiling.

If you’ve read some of my previous work, you already know that science long ago established the existence of precognition with the Rhine experiments and the meta- analysis which followed (Honorton/Ferrari). There is statistically significant evidence for precognition although its effect is small in the general population. The point is that it’s there.

In the 1990s Radin went on to look at presentiment (prefeeling instead of preknowing). Radin used a random number generator and a stock of color photos which contained calming or emotional images that were flashed on a computer screen. He collected the subject’s reaction via skin conductance levels using electrodes attached to the palm. (Radin gives an exhaustive description in the book in case anyone wants to examine all the experimental protocols.) The results indicate that people react physiologically BEFORE they see the image on the screen. The experiment is strong evidence for presentiment even though the subject does not have conscious awareness of the image.

Back to Pantanjali. In a fairly complicated experiment, Radin looked at a group of meditators and non-meditators (sixteen individuals total). Meditators with a lot of experience in non-dual techniques often can achieve a deep state of absorption (Samadhi/Samyama) where time and space evaporate. The yogic perception is that an underlying deeper reality exists beyond time and space. In this reality, past and future influence the present. We are used to thinking about the past influencing the future, but it may also be that the future is at work as well. In this way of looking at things, presentiment/precognition can be viewed as the future influencing present awareness.

In the experiment, 32 channels of EEG were measured before, during, and after exposure to unpredictable light and sound stimuli. If meditation practice developed a way to extend consciousness through time, then we would expect the meditators to exhibit prestimulus differences in EEG responses over the control group (non-meditators). The research revealed that meditators did show brain activity that anticipated an audio signal. Non-meditators did not show any significant prestimulus differences between light v. sound.* The outcome supported the idea that the meditators were accessing the future in a way consistent with Pantanjali’s description.

A reversal of the cause-effect sequence is compatible with classical and quantum physics. Physicists already accept time reversal for the quantum world, but the evidence for precognition suggests it also takes place in the macro-world.

The evidence for precognition/presentiment may excite you or it may make you very nervous but either way, it should make you pause to consider how our worldview must change. Science has to take us to new places and challenge us to think and see in new ways. Scientific laws are not carved in stone and to reject all PSI research because it doesn’t fit a materialistic worldview only slows down the inevitable. We are starting to see the ground shift. Seventy-five years of scientific evidence from all over the world indicates that humans do possess one of the siddhis Pantanjali listed. We can glimpse the future.

More Summer Reading:
Emotional Freedom (Energy Psychology)- Judith Orloff, MD
The Biology of Belief- Bruce Lipton, PhD
The Way of the Explorer- Edgar Mitchell (astronaut)
The Genie in Your Genes- Dawson Church (epigenetics)

*Reasons why the non-mediators didn’t exhibit presentiment (in this small study) may be due to the stimulus not being emotionally charged and/or the choice of measuring physiological changes might not be the best one.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, PSI, Spiritual/Mysticism, Uncategorized