January 14, 2013 § 10 Comments
Rachael Rice is an Oklahoma-born, Vermont-bred dream coach, artist, digital media maven, teacher and dreamcatcher maker — featured in the likes of People Magazine– living in Portland, Oregon. We met at an event offering free workshops for women — I was leading a poetry workshop and she was teaching a class on making dreamcatchers. Her creations and creative spirit alike are inspiring to behold.
Rachael, I’ve been calling 2013 the year of the dream. I saw the other day on your Facebook page that you’ve coined the same term! Dream actualization is in the air! Transformative culture is on the rise. What are your thoughts on this moment of history in which we find ourselves and the role of the dreamer in the modern age?
Well I think it’s some pretty intense karma to be alive now. I mean, now we really know about the consequences of our actions: how unlimited growth doesn’t work in a closed system like Earth, how coal and combustion engines make polar bears grip their tiny ice shards. We have more awareness than ever of the scope of human suffering — AND potential.
I choose to put all my energy into working with others who are building whatever is coming next. I don’t get real upset about politics because I don’t think the answers to the world’s problems are going to come from the government (although it would benefit greatly I think from a presence of women commensurate in proportion to its electorate) — I think the answers to the world’s problems will come from creatives: artists, dreamers, song-singers, and the like.
So I began to notice that I’d sit down with someone to talk about her website, and we’d end up talking about whether or not she wanted kids, or the fact that she really wanted to forgive her sister, or quit her day job and be a writer. So the conversation about branding quickly turned to the Big Dream, what we want out of life, and I found that I was pretty good at using the online branding process to help clients achieve more clarity about what they really wanted to be doing. Now I have a group of women that I coach in what I’m calling Dream School: A Solopreneur Salon for Creatives. We get together and use various tools — everything from smudge sticks to Danielle Laporte’s Desire Map to Seth Godin’s blog to Tara Gentile‘s writing about money to Pixie Campbell‘s SouLodge animal wisdom teachings. It’s a very spiritual, very practical approach to running a business as a creative person.
Well the dreamcatcher originated with the Ojibwa Nation and were often used above a child’s cradle, as a mobile to capture and filter out the bad dreams (there are various iterations of this theme). The Pan-Indian movement of the 60′s and 70′s saw the dreamcatcher popularized as a uniting image, and it has certainly become quite commercialized and appropriated by white girls like me since then. I grew up in a time when “multiculturalism” was part of arts education and I learned to make them in Oklahoma, much as you would learn to make snowshoes or Ukrainian eggs.
Then I became a public school art teacher and explored all manner of indigenous and non-western art and craft. Now there’s a lot more mindfulness (or there should be) around cultural appropriation so I understand it’s tricky to create art inspired by Native American imagery. The spiritual nature of the objects I create exists only as an expression of what I think is beautiful, I claim no heritage other than the space occupied by my own heart. They are not marketed as sacred objects (though they are to me, but so is my guitar). I use mostly salvaged materials, and as much as possible I source my feathers from happy birds on farms. I donate to the Native American Youth and Family Association of Portland, as a token of thanks.
What advice would you give to people trying to break through issues of anxiety, depression, creative stagnation and/or self-doubt?
I share this issue. I would call it a spiritual assignment. I’ve had some serious trauma in life that has resulted in the need for clinical support. I do believe in therapy (I’m a fan of the alphabet soup evidence-based therapies like CBT, DBT, and especially ACT). But therapy is like food, you have to try a lot of it to find out what you like. And some of us need medication, as over-prescribed as it is. Prozac is my friend. I haven’t tried ayahuasca yet but certainly psychedelic drugs have influenced my capacity to wonder.
I love 12-Step work, because of its accountability, and its helpfulness in dismantling egoic narcissism. You don’t have to believe in God(s) to have a higher power, you know? I adore the work of Pema Chodron, Thich Nhat Hahn, Eckart Tolle and all those folks talking about the nature of the soul. I think body centered practices like EFT tapping, yoga, and other healing modalities can get to places that talk-based therapies can’t reach. You know, none of these approaches work unless you’re really willing to be very, very VERY uncomfortable. And a lot of people aren’t. They’re very attached to their stories about themselves, their Pain Bodies, the narratives imposed upon them by the operating system downloaded into their bodies by their DNA, their parents, their society.
My advice is to stay away from alcohol and read about Acceptance & Commitment Therapy. Get a sense of the Observer Self that’s there all the time, no matter how you’re feeling. Cultivate gratitude. Every single day. We have every modern convenience, every imaginable advantage. If you don’t believe me, go turn your water on and off. There is no excuse to not have a life that is meaningful and rewarding, full of connection and service.
We over-emphasize the mind in our culture. We think it’s important to not have negative thoughts a lot. Well, some of us were programmed to have a lot of negative thoughts. That’s not such a big deal. The sun will become a red giant and in 10,000 years none of it will matter, you don’t have to take your negative thoughts and feelings so seriously. Pay attention to the activities that make time fly by, to the things that give your life meaning. And choose behaviors that align with those things, no matter what your mind may be doing. This will often be really uncomfortable. It’s the yoga of the development. But the amazing thing is that, if you choose different behaviors, you’ll have different feelings!
Try to view all your relationships as assignments from your soul. Entertain the possibility that your soul chose this body, and these circumstances, at this time, to best learn how to be at home in your own heart.
You’ve described yourself as a “living, breathing dream catcher.” I love this idea. Can you describe for us how others might achieve this?
Figure out how you want to feel (specifically, not just generically) and identify actions that create those feelings. Like, I want to feel expanded, inspired, abundant, divinely feminine, and useful. I can’t feel that way and have a normal day job. But other people can.
My new thing is to buy the coffee of the person behind me in a drive-through, especially if I’m feeling particularly contracted around money. It shifts everything for me, and I get to drive away before they can even thank me! Awesome!! Abundance is a feeling, and I have plenty. Pay attention to how your body feels in reaction to your environment. To the food you eat. To the conversations you have. If you’re unsure of your soul’s purpose, try to help others in some way. Be of service. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Surround yourself with people who make you feel more like yourself. I spend 80% of my time alone, and that’s ok. I’m sensitive. Always be asking, “why do I want this?” And notice, right in this moment, you are safe.
Is there a particular philosophy by which you live your life?
I dig engaged Buddhism. I think it’s important to know the land we walk on, to re-indigenize ourselves: where my water comes from, what plants are edible, who was here before me, from which direction do storms blow in. I believe in forgiveness.
What would you say is your number one inspiration?
The natural world. Or Lady Gaga. It’s a toss-up.
October 30, 2012 § 17 Comments
By Tai Carmen“The night sea journey takes you back to your primordial self, not the heroic self that burns out and falls to judgment, but to your original self, yourself as a sea of possibility, your greater and deeper being.” ~ Thomas Moor
“There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, to avoid facing their own soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” ~ Carl Jung
“Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth” ~ Pema Chödrön
So named after St. John of the Cross’ classic religious poem of the same title, the dark night of the soul is described by seekers of all mystical traditions as an important stage of the quest for deeper knowledge — as unavoidable as confronting the dragon who guards the treasure in every mythic hero’s story.
“The mythological goal of the dragon fight is almost always the virgin, the captive, or more generally, the ‘treasure hard to attain.’ This image of the vulnerable, beautiful, and enchanting woman, guarded by and captive of a menacing monster gives us a picture of the inner core of the personality and its surrounding defenses,” relates Donald Kalsched in Myth & Psyche.
The maiden or treasure on the other side of the dragon symbolize our own inner wealth or spirit, awaiting reunion with the conscious mind, guarded by the ego and shadow-side aspects of the personality.
“Only one who has risked the fight with the dragon,” notes the great Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, “and is not overcome by it wins the hoard, the ‘treasure hard to attain’. . . . he has faced the dark ground of his self and thereby gained himself.”
In myth and life alike, when the seeker first sets out upon the path, it is often not by choice but by necessity. To live in denial of the call simply becomes unbearable. Many times transformation is triggered by a crisis of meaning, forcing a reassessment of values and priorities.
Increased awareness shines a light on dark corners of the personality and/or the world at large. So the dark night period is really a sign that transformation is occurring — the labor pains of personal rebirth.
If processed, all who have undergone the dark night of the soul agree that it is ultimately a doorway to deeper awareness and understanding. On the other side awaits a more authentic self and a broader concept of the world. But in the meantime the false constructs and denied aspects of self become increasingly uncomfortable, even painful, giving the impression that something awful is happening, when, in fact, this period can be seen as nature’s way of encouraging regeneration — as a snake’s partly shed skin irks and itches him until he rubs the husk off entirely.
Because of his powerful ability to shed old layers of himslef, mystical traditions the world over associate the snake with transformation and regeneration.
Jesus had his forty days in the desert, Jonah his time in the belly of the whale. In Star Wars, when Luke Skywalker asks Yoda what he will encounter in his first test, the mini master replies: “Only what you take with you.”
“Everyone carries a shadow,” Jung wrote, “and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.” In other words, the more we deny it, the more power the shadow self has over us.
“The Shadow is an archetype—a universal motif or image built in to all human beings. You can no more get rid of this inner Shadow than you can avoid casting an outer shadow when you’re in sunlight. For most of us, that creates a problem, because the Shadow appears as the sum total of the weakest, most flawed, inferior or even disgusting parts of yourself. It’s everything you don’t wish to be, but fear that you are.” (“The Tools” by Phil Stutz.)
When one is experiencing a dark night of the soul, one inevitably comes face to face with one’s shadow side.
“Most of us do not take these situations as teachings,” says Zen monk and author Pema Chödrön. “We automatically hate them. We run like crazy. We use all kinds of ways to escape — all addictions stem from this moment when we meet our edge and we just can’t stand it. We feel we have to soften it, pad it with something, and we become addicted to whatever it is that seems to ease the pain.”
Continues Chödrön,”It’s a transformative experience to simply pause instead of immediately trying to fill up the space. By waiting, we begin to connect with fundamental restlessness as well as fundamental spaciousness.” By spaciousness, Chödron means the vast calm available to us in the “inner space” of turning inward in meditation and conscious presence. (For more on third eye meditations and inner space travel see “The Art of Seeing: Third Eye Perception and the Mystical Gaze”).
“It takes a long time to learn to listen to the still, small voice within,” notes Psychology Today writer Wendy Lustbader. “We tend to seek direction outside ourselves, while our soul’s language is drowned out by the commotion of day-to-day doings, all the external strivings that distract us.
“It is possible to lose awareness of this inner voice for years and to be carried along by the force of society’s dictates and other people’s conceptions of a worthy life. At any point in the lifespan, suffering makes our need to hear what is within acute.”
“We see our Shadow as a source of humiliation that we try to hide—usually through some kind of perfectionism,” explains Phil Stutz. “The counter-intuitive truth is that when we reveal the Shadow… its nature changes. It becomes a source of creativity and confidence.”
This is because it has been noted by students of the psyche, and Jung in particular, that, as psychologist Ken Page puts it: “Our deepest wounds surround our greatest gifts.” Continues Page, “Cervantes said that reading a translation is like viewing a tapestry from the back. That’s what it’s like when we try to understand our deepest struggles without honoring the gifts that fuel them.”
“Core gifts are not the same as talents or skills,” continues Page. “In fact, until we understand them, they often feel like shameful weaknesses, or as parts of ourselves too vulnerable to expose.” He gives examples of a client who feels she is “too much,” whose core gift is passion. Another who feels he is “not enough,” whose core gift is humility.
“Yet [these vulnerable parts of ourselves] are where our soul lives…” Page observes. “But gifts aren’t hall-passes to happiness. They get us into trouble again and again. We become most defensive-or most naïve-around them. They challenge us and the people we care about. They ask more of us than we want to give. And we can be devastated when we feel them betrayed or rejected…”
“Since the heat of our core is so hard to handle,” details Page, “we protect ourselves by moving further out from the center. Each ring outward represents a more airbrushed version of ourselves. Each makes us feel safer, puts us at less risk of embarrassment, failure, and rejection. Yet, each ring outward also moves us one step further from our soul, our authenticity, and our sense of meaning…
“So, most of us set up shop at a point where we are close enough to be warmed by our gifts, but far enough away that we do not get burned by their fire. We create safer versions of ourselves to enable us to get through our lives without having to face the existential risk of our core.” (“How Our Insecurities Can Reveal Our Deepest Gifts”).
Considering these angles, it becomes easier to see how the symbolic dragon of the shadow side protects our greatest riches, and how shining a light on our darkness is one time-tested way to liberate the luminous gold of our authentic self.
The only way out is through. Once we begin to see the value in our shadow aspects and dark night periods — whether it’s a dark night day, month or year — we can learn to stop resisting the discomfort and surrender to the process, to view it as an initiation, a transition. If we view every aspect of the journey as sacred, we are better able to glean its gifts, for behind the dark night awaits a silver dawn.
September 22, 2012 § 28 Comments
“The whole universe exists inside you. Ask all from yourself.” ~Rumi
“And we, we who embody the local eyes and ears and thoughts and feelings of the cosmos, we have begun at least to wonder about our origins — star stuff contemplating the stars, organized collections of ten billion billion billion atoms, contemplating the evolution of nature, tracing that long path by which it arrived at consciousness here on the planet earth, and perhaps throughout the cosmos.” ~ Carl Sagan, Cosmos: Who Speaks For Earth
Ken Carey had been off the grid for a decade, living a simple farm life in harmony with nature, when, in a state of high fever, he penned the slim classic Starseed Transmissions in 1978. Carey’s description of the experience proceeding his dictation echoes the transpersonal state of transcendent awareness long reported by mystics:
“Everything that touched my senses, every nuance of sound and light, every object in the room felt as intimate to me as the lungs through which I breathed, as inseparable, as personal. Insights did not come as flashes but as things I had always known, truths so obvious it was hard to believe I could have forgotten them.” (The Starseed Transmissions, introduction, 1995 edition.)
The narrator identifies itself as a force that “comes from the Presence where there is no time but the eternal now,” describing itself as a member of a race of spirit beings who have been evolving alongside humanity in a parallel universe of non-form:
“We are you, yourself, in the distant past and distant future. We are you as you were, would have been and still are, had you not fallen from your original state of grace.”
The angelic messenger from the stars describes this falling from grace, not as moral corruption, but as the state of fear and disconnection humans entered as they became lost in the” materializing process,” forgetful of their spiritual counterparts and interconnected origins. In effect, the book purports to be a voice from the realm where our spirits wait, calling us home.
The narrator describes a state of harmonious connectivity in which humanity would flourish:
“In the fallen state of consciousness, each human being functions in disregard of the song of Life that is going on in others. There is no harmony, no direction, no arrangement. You are like the random notes of an orchestra before the conductor unifies the instruments in symphony. The Grand Conductor is calling everyone to attention, calling now to remembrance of unity and purpose, reminding all that the time has come to stop tuning separate instruments and begin to accept the direction of One who understands the whole.
“As you begin to pay attention to the direction of the Conductor within, you will begin to play to the rhythm of the Planetary Symphony, harmonizing with the others of your species and with all of life.” (Ken Carey’s, Starseed Transmissions.)
In many ways, Ken Carey’s Starseed Transmissions echoes Timothy Leary’s “Starseed: Transmissions from Folsem Prison,” published five years prior. Obviously, the names are similar, though it is unclear whether Carey had ever read Leary’s piece. It seems unlikely that Carey would have been exposed to Leary’s short, pamphlet-like work, as Carey was undergoing a decade long media fast on a farm in rural Missouri at the time of writing Starseed.
The central theme of both starseed works is that humanity’s destiny lies in the stars. Both imagine a future galactic human, evolved past our current point, who would ascend into the heavens and begin what both texts describe as our true quest…An image we see appearing even earlier, in 1968, in the last scene of Stanley Kubrick’s acclaimed “2001: A Space Odyssey.”
So according to Ken Carey’s angelic/extraterrestrial messenger, we are all Starseeds. We all have other worldly origins and the homesickness we feel is spiritual in nature, a longing for divine reconnection.
The primary criticisms lobbied against starseed-identified individuals is that it is escapist, and originates out of the desire to feel special. Though many starseeds keep their thoughts about their identity to themselves for that very reason, there are many who build elaborate sites detailing rank, home-world histories, etc.
Usually those who get into details of hierarchical order describe a “Galactic Federation of Light,” the “Galactic Council” or “The Ashtar Command.” Many channelers claim to be in touch with beings from other planets in our solar system, describing a leader named Sunat Kumara – details about which a surprising number of people agree. Personally, I don’t relate with these very specific renderings — but perhaps those people who do, have reason to do so.
Scott Mandelker, Ph.D. author of From Elsewhere: Being ET in America, notes “… I found that within the group of people who recognized themselves as cosmic visitors were individuals both clear and confused, humble and grandiose, active in service or passive in self absorption. Like any other group of people, I found all types – yet those who I considered a bit off-balance did not detract from the genuine reality of extraterrestrial incarnation. Even ET souls are not perfectly enlightened — and even less so when they take human form!”
Yet many “men and women…never spoke about being from such and such planet, unless somebody directly asked them. They had no need to impress anyone with rank or title… They made no big deal about being different; they were too busy teaching, writing, healing, counseling, creating, planning and organizing activities that might be of benefit totheir community.” (SOURCE)
Lately, ET culture has gone so mainstream that Katy Perry is singing pop songs about alien abduction: In “E.T.” she describes the ambiguity, fear and romantic draw surrounding this newest of cultural obsessions: “You’re so hypnotizing/Could you be the devil?/Could you be an angel?…”
The chorus is particularly troubling: “Kiss me, kiss me/Infect me with your love and/Fill me with your poison/Take me, take me/Wanna be a victim/Ready for abduction…”
While most likely just a sign that the fringe-dweller’s sci-fi fascination has reached mainstream status and is currently “on the collective mind,” many find the weird romanticization of abduction propaganda-esque.
Predator/prey imagery, featuring wild carnivores chasing and consuming defenseless herbivores, are spliced in among eroticized alien-human relations, resulting in Perry appearing, in the last scene, with goat-legs. She is also notably featured as a romanticized Gray alien being flung through the far reaches of the cosmos, imploring Kanye West, playing an alien, to “take her, infect her with his poison, abduct her,” etc.
Perhaps the somewhat grotesque portrayal of cosmic themes in videos like Perry’s is due, less to nefarious connections, and more to the inevitable sensationalism and debasement of consumer-based production.
However, imagery like this, combined with the perceived onslaught of alien invasion films in the past decade, have many wondering if they are being brainwashed or desensitized in preparation for a coming ET event. There are numerous online sites dedicated to keeping an eye on the progress of this theory.
It is possible that both the creepy, conspiracy “alien agenda” angle and the love-based-starseed-in-service-to-the-planet slant are two sides of the same coin. Perhaps the love-based starseeds have come in special numbers at this time as a line of defense. But it’s easy to get lost in labyrinthian conspiracy theories…
Panning back from this micro-focus, we see that it is not so odd that we should be culturally obsessed with our identities in relation to the larger galactic picture…
We are the first waves of humans, that we know of, to have come of age in an era where space travel is a natural part of life, and images of our place in the universe, via Hubble Telescope photography, is available for everyone to see.
Whether or not you believe the surrounding mythos, it seems significant that sites like www.starseed.net has 7000 + members; www.ashtarcommandcrew.net boasts a community of over 10,000 members! The shared goals of those identifying with this burgeoning movement of cosmic consciousness is consistently transformational in nature. All feel innately within the core of their being that we live in a time of great change, great potential and certainly, also, danger — though it is the possibility upon which most choose to focus their energies.
People associated with transformational culture invariably feel that they have a mission to be of service to the planet at this time. Inevitably there is a call towards compassion, justice, harmony, community, freedom, self-expression, environmental awareness, personal growth, the presence of the divine within all things and the connectedness of all humanity. Whether these worthy goals are fulfilled, or remain intentions only, the inspiration behind them seems culturally progressive.
Whether these galactic generations feel the affinities they do because their souls are truly extraterrestrial, or because the stark gap between their ideals and the reality of the world makes them feel alien to modern culture, seems less important than the fact that this is a genuine, far-reaching movement with apparently positive ideals.
In many ways cosmic language has replaced religious terminology. People will say “one with the Universe” in the same way that they used to say “one with God;” terms like “universal love” replace phrases like “God’s love.” This is just semantics. Understandably, many in the cosmic generations feel the word God has been abused in the name of unloving principals. In these cases, secular language feels more fresh and personal, but it is no less mystical a statement to assert one’s connection with the universe, particularly when most mystical traditions agree that God is within all.
On a personal note, as a child I had never heard of of”star children” or “starseeds,” yet I felt instinctively that I was from elsewhere and that I was on a mission. I also saw a UFO as a child, in broad daylight; a slim silver disc, which appeared not horizontal but upright and emitted a beautiful rainbow contrail. The sighting was serendipitous, as I only saw it fly over my head because I had slipped on a rock. I’ve had other paranormal experiences throughout my life — clairvoyance, seeing energy and auras. So in light of this, I do find this subject — which I can easily imagine seeming totally “out there” for many people — fascinating.
Whatever the details, we find ourselves now in a unique position: the first series of human generations to grow up knowing what our galaxy looks like; knowing there are more galaxies than grains of sand in all the worlds beaches, and as many possible worlds. We feel ourselves in the growing pains of transforming from what humans have been, to all we seek to become.
*Parallax Give-Away: make a comment on this post (click on “comments” under the title) and win a copy of Ken Carey’s Starseed Transmissions. (Names of all who comment will be placed in a drawing, one name selected.)