Walking to Paradise

A few nights ago I decided to take a walk just after sunset, as part of my plan to enjoy more exercise during my physical manifestation overhaul. There was still plenty of light, and I planned on only being gone about half an hour, so I didn’t need a flashlight or anything like that. I also didn’t plan on meditating or trying to contact Spirit in any way at all, so I was completely taken off guard by what happened…

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Spirituality and Religion: Druid Journal Interview with Erin Pavlina

I’ve written before about the sea change in the world religious scene. Religion is becoming something you have to seek out, instead of something you’re born into.

ire41But it’s an ancient pattern, really. In the oldest times, you generally stuck with the religion of your tribe, simply because you never heard about any other ideas. But as tribes began to interact more, they would often exchange religious beliefs. A popular god could spread from community to community across a continent, each new tribe grafting the deity into their existing mythology. There was usually a priesthood that facilitated contact with the Eternal, but individuals had patron gods or spirits, and each person did their level best to maintain a good relationship with the Otherworld and its denizens. And it was not uncommon to see someone’s altar populated with idols or symbols from a variety of traditions. After all, it was best to be on the safe side.

But then came the Revealed religions, with their sacred texts and strict ideologies. If you were born into one of these, you had your religion handed to you, no questions asked. In some of them, a personal relationship with the Eternal was encouraged, but in many it had to be mediated with religious authority (which was often also government authority, coincidentally enough). And these religions spread so widely, swallowing up surrounding indigenous religions over such broad areas, that soon, for most people, there might as well have been just one religion in the world.

Now that’s changed again, of course. No matter what religion you’ve started out with, sooner or later you start hearing about all the other options out there, and if you’ve got any particle of curiosity in you, you wonder what those other religions are like, and what they offer their believers, and whether the religion you have been given is really the perfect one for you…

Erin Pavlina is a medium who is spiritual, but not religious. She did not have a strong religious upbringing, and never identified herself as Jewish, Christian, pagan, or anything. Yet she’s always had an interest in, and talent for, occult and psychic phenomena — a talent that has blossomed hugely ever since she focused her life on it at the urging of her guides. At her blog, she discusses psychic phenomena and psychology with a gentle, loving, yet down-to-earth and practical style, and her one-on-one Readings are always in high demand. Her connection to Spirit is strong and getting stronger, and that connection has given her a powerful perspective on the spiritual forces molding this planet.

So I’m delighted to present this interview with her, in which she discusses ways in which we all can foster a greater connection with spirit — in ourselves and those we love — and what we’ll discover out there when we do.

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The Plight of the Honey Bee

Almost everyone is aware by now that honey bees are having a very, very difficult year. Bee colonies are dying all over the United States, imperiling not only the supply of honey, but also crops that depend on the bee for pollination, such as almonds, strawberries, blueberries, apples, watermelons, cranberries, and soybeans. While there are other pollinators out there, the honey bee is the only domesticated pollinator — it is the only pollinator that can be moved from crop to crop as necessary, and the only pollinator that can be depended on to serve crops that are not native to North America. As such it is essential to the large-scale agribusiness of the United States.

The death of a colony is frightful. First, the older adult worker bees begin to disappear, until only the younger ones are left. The workforce grows smaller gradually, becoming too small to care for the bees’ young. The Queen begins appearing outside the hive more frequently than normal. The bees seem reluctant to eat the food provided by the beekeeper.

Within a week or two, all the workers have disappeared entirely. They have gone away, and do not return. There are very few dead bees found near the hive. Food stores are abandoned uneaten. The babies are left growing in their hexagonal chambers, and they quickly die with no adults to feed them.

BUT WHY?

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Trust Your Feelings

Science has a long and distinguished history of showing that human intution is completely unreliable.

  • The Earth is the center of the universe. No, it’s just a relatively small, insignificant planet orbiting a medium-sized star buried in a perfectly normal galaxy.
  • The Earth is flat. No, it’s a sphere.
  • The sun goes around the earth. No, the Earth goes around the sun.
  • People are fundamentally different from animals, just like animals are fundamentally different from plants. No, humans are animals; in fact, we share 98% of our genetic material with chimpanzees — we’re more closely related than horses and zebras.
  • Fire is a spirit that needs food and shelter, like any other living thing. No, it’s just a chemical reaction that is powered by fuel and oxygen.
  • If you take 20 people at random and put them in a room, it’s very unlikely that two of them will have the same birthday. No, the probability is almost 50%.
  • You can’t know something without knowing you know it… Actually, your subconscious is aware of all sorts of things it isn’t telling you!

What this shows is that human intuition is seriously flawed. Our rational minds are just fine, it appears — nothing wrong with our reasoning faculty. But our hunches, our guesses — they are way off. One wonders how we managed to survive this long as a species.

I Love You with All My Limbic System

Of course, science has an answer for that, too. The seat of emotion and intution, it says, is not in your heart, but in that mass of neurons behind your eyes. Of course, the brain can think rationally, too. But different parts of the brain do different things: there’s a section for language, and a section for vision, and a section for wiggling your toes, and so forth. Some processing is distributed everywhere — memory, for example. There are no “memory banks” in your brain; memory seems to be spread all over the place. Same goes for the subconscious mind: assuming it’s there at all, it isn’t local to any one spot. The rational mind resides in the cerebral cortex; while the emotions commonly associated with the heart — love, fear, compassion, excitement — actually seem to be generated in a part of the brain charmingly called the “amygdala”.

The amygdala acts like a fast-acting decision maker for dangerous or intense situations. It processes sensory input (like if the eyes let you know that you’re standing right in the path of a really big truck), assigns an appropriate emotion (“fear”), and sends out messages to speed up the heart, shorten the breath, jump for safety, and so forth. The higher functions of the cerebral cortex need not be informed of the sensory input at all until afterwards. This is handy when decisions have to be made fast. The cortex is smart, but it can take forever to decide things, especially in certain clothing stores.

From the standpoint of science, then, emotions are a gut-level, pre-programmed response to certain stimuli, and it is just the sort of thing you want if you’re frequently involved in hunting, being hunted, or otherwise pursuing the idyllic life of our forbears.

What about love? What about intuition? Here, science suggests, the situation is more complicated. Your cerebral cortex interacts extensively with the amygdala and the rest of the limbic system, generating a variety of automatic responses, emotions over which you have little control. They, too, are designed for life in the stone age. Fear of strangers? Perfectly rational if you hardly ever meet anyone outside your tribe. Love at first sight? A chemical interaction, in which your nose identifies a good mate. Shivers up your spine in a dark room? You’ve subconsciously noticed an odd noise or something, and your amygdala is freaking out, thinking a saber-toothed tiger might be nearby. Emotions, according to science, are largely useless holdovers from an earlier evolutionary era.

This is the 21st century, and our wetware is badly in need of an upgrade. Today, if you want to find the truth of a matter, you have to set aside your intuition and look up the latest scientific studies.

Doubt

But keep in mind that science reserves the right to change its mind. Darwin actually suggested that women were less intelligent than men, and listed some perfectly good evolutionary reasons to explain this. (After all, if your primary function in the species is to bear and raise children, of what earthly use would a brain be? Gotta love those 19th century guys.) Scientists no longer believe this, because a century of careful and meticulous scientific studies has shown that it’s a load of baloney.

The scientific method thus encourages Doubt on two levels. First, doubt of your own intuitions and feelings, because they’re automatic, knee-jerk reactions held over from the Stone Age. Second, doubt of scientific theories, because a new study or finding could come along tomorrow and overturn everything. Science generates doubt, and is built on doubt.

So what should you believe in? Well, nothing, obviously. Agnosticism — in the broad sense of acknowledging ignorance of EVERYTHING — is the only rational choice.

Doubt and Fear

But agnosticism is paralyzing. It’s paralyzing and paranoid. If you know nothing, there are no good choices; all choices are ill-advised; so you are paralyzed into non-action. And doubt leads to fear; because if you don’t know what’s around the next corner, or under the bed, or at the bottom of the dark staircase… you imagine something horrible there.

If you allow doubt to sit by the throne of your soul, then you are reduced to a shadow of what you should be. You don’t trust yourself. You don’t trust others. You are left cowering and jumping at every sudden noise.

There are those that say that darkworking — using fear as motivation and energy for manifesting — is a viable life choice, but this is misguided. Fear does not provide energy for manifesting. On the contrary, it saps your creative powers away.

In order for anything to be done, in order for any life to be lived, fear must be set aside and doubt must be left behind.

Trust Yourself

One of the worst side effects of the rise of science has been the fall of intuition. People no longer trust themselves, and they have lost the ability to listen to their own bodies and hearts. When the small, quiet voice whispers to them, they ignore it. They are afraid of being fooled. They turn a deaf ear again and again, until they can no longer hear it at all.

And so people turn away from their intuition when it could serve them best. They jump from diet to diet instead of learning how to listen to their bodies. They buy houses based on resale value and local crime rates instead of finding a place they want to live in. They push their children to beat statistical averages instead of tuning in to the child’s natural pace of growth. They take aptitude tests to find out what their life’s work should be.

But intuition is a reliable guide — if you learn to listen to it properly.

  • The Earth is the center of the universe. It’s the center of your universe.
  • The Earth is flat. It’s flat where you are.
  • The sun goes around the earth. Actually, according to relativity, this is just as true as saying that the Earth goes around the sun. All motion is relative. And for your life here on Earth, it makes a lot more sense to think of the planet as motionless.
  • People are fundamentally different from animals, just like animals are fundamentally different from plants. Genetic material doesn’t tell the whole story. Steam may be chemically identical to water, and just a few degrees hotter, but its properties are vastly different.
  • Fire is a spirit that needs food and shelter, like any other living thing. If you treat fire with the respect it deserves, as a capricious and dangerous spirit, you’re likely to live a lot longer.
  • If you take 20 people at random and put them together in a room, it’s very unlikely that two of them will have the same birthday. In this universe, twenty people are never thrown together at random.
  • You can’t know something without knowing you know it… If you tune in to your intuition, you will know everything that you know!