On Grief and Connection: A Response to the Fort Hood Deaths

A Guest Post by Ali, of Meadowsweet & Myrrh

Jeff’s last post illustrated very well the kind of divisive rhetoric utilized in most political speeches these days, language that takes for granted an implicit superiority of American citizens and soldiery, and that rejects understanding, compassion and forgiveness for fear that such things will lead to acceptance of and complicity in violence (that is, those forms of violence deemed unacceptable by the State). His post, by reversing the target of this rhetoric, raised a lot of hackles and provoked a lot of feedback, through comments and email, about the basic immorality of justifying violence and excusing killers. Now, with his gracious permission, I would like to try my hand at rewriting Obama’s speech, not by reversing its aim, but by turning the rhetoric itself on its head, and speaking in terms of inclusion rather than exclusion, connection instead division. This is the speech I wish Obama had given, though for reasons that will become obvious, it is not one I ever expect any political leader in this country to give.

A tragedy like the one that claimed the lives of thirteen people at Fort Hood, indeed any tragedy of sudden and senseless death, challenges us to reevaluate our priorities, as individuals, as a community, and as a nation. In our grief, we reach out for meaning, for reassurance and comfort, and for a sense of peace and goodness in the world. During such times, it would be so easy to turn like those before us have done, to familiar words of patriotism and national pride. It would be easy to give these deaths the meaning of noble sacrifice in a greater cause — and to name that cause with words like “freedom” that we have claimed as exclusively our own, though truly such things belong to all people, inalienably, as the founders of this country knew so well. Read more

Feather, Stone, and Light: Meditation Interlude

At first there are only confused images.  I try to return to familiar places:  the Temple, the Forest of Branching Paths, the Sun Prairie…  But they slip away without coming into focus.  I blink, look at the flame again, allow my frustration to pass.  I try to focus on visualizing a single tree, a pool of water with light rippling, a mossy stone…  Nothing.  I can’t hold on to anything.  Again, I breathe, look at the flame, and allow the frustration to pass.  Sometimes it seems like 90% of all meditative practice is learning to forgive yourself for not meditating…  I try again.

Oh yes!  There it is.

Read more


Like a silent thunderclap
The sun strikes a blade of grass,
— A sharp thrusting blade it is, a defiant green punch
Out of the soil at the sky —
Now struck and smelted with gold leaf,
Humming with new life and power,
Slow and ruminous the photosynthesis.
The Long Hand of Lugh
Has painted it alive.
— Jan 2009

physviolenceThe path to divorce began before I even met my wife; I’d placed my feet on it inevitably, irrevocably, following the stars of my deepest desires and fears. I wanted to be loved; was this wrong? I wanted acceptance, approval, completion; was this wrong? I wanted to care for, and to give affection to, and to love; was this wrong? I sought these, and found these, in her. I loved her, and desired her, and cared for her, and was completed by her, utterly, as I understood love and desire and care and completion. And we loved furiously and ecstatically and laid the beautiful plans that lovers do.

Read more

Dealing With Difficult Times and Transits

Occasionally we stop and take stock of ourselves.

peleIs our health ok? How about our family, and the other important relationships in our lives? Our education? Our career?

And usually we find ourselves wanting in one way or another. We could be a little healthier, our family could be a little more tightly bonded, and frankly we could be making more money than we do. And so we might draw up a list of goals, or at least join a gym or try to buff up our resume. And we might follow our new plans for a week or a month, and maybe we’ll even make some hard-won progress in these areas.

Frankly, this whole process is ridiculous, from start to finish. Read more

Pele: Fire in the Water

Well, first, of course, Obama was elected, and he grew up in Hawaii.

interviewfrankmaceowenAnd then my friend Slade (of sladeroberson.com) went to Hawaii for angelic training and, as it turned out, met essential people for his life path.

And then I stumbled onto a fascinating podcast called “Jedi trainer” (hunatrainer.com), which is really a tutorial on Huna, a (the?) Hawaiian shamanistic tradition. The podcaster is on a very good wavelength for me, and with a couple of his techniques, I was able to ramp up my manifesting energy enormously.

And then I saw my very first Hawaiian quarter — absolutely gorgeous, too.

And then, it turned out that one of the people in my work group was getting an all-expenses paid trip to Hawaii as a thank-you from the company for basically being an awesome guy.

What on earth was all this Hawaii stuff about?

Read more

Mapping the Inner Landscape

I’ve come to realize that the geography of my inner landscape reflects my personal spiritual journey.

athenaeum2008zThe inner landscape I visit most often in meditation consists of a number of consistent regions. I’ve described them in detail in other articles, but in brief they are:

The Abyss of Fear

A bottomless chasm that radiates terror. It is always dark at its edge — although no stars are visible in the sky — but everything is lit by an unholy blue light. A path, unevenly paved, leads away from its edge into…

The Forest of Branching Paths

The path gradually becomes completely unpaved, lined with springy fallen leaves. It is a wood of oak and birch. The forest is pitted with hidden dells and valleys, waterfall-fed pools frequented by goddesses, nymphs, and less pleasant things. A web of footpaths weaves among the trees, and one can frequently find souls wandering along them – I have encountered ancestors, minstrels, a band of thieves, and hidden realms of other people entirely. But if you follow the right paths, you will eventually come to…

Read more

Meeting the Dream Master

When I first laid eyes on the Dream Master, he was Death.

athenaeum2008zIn meditation, I had rowed my boat out to the Island of Smoke (a place in my Inner Landscape where I frequently go to ask things of gods and spirits), and docked it in its usual spot along the rocky, pine-forested shore. It’s a short walk up the sandy path to the clearing where I light virtual fires and give virtual sacrifices, calling to the great ones to hear my pleas and grant my prayers.

Who is the Dream Master? Easily told — he is the one who brings dreams. Maybe you know him better as the Sandman. He decides what dreams you will have, and when you’ll have them. He is your guide through the one third of your life you spend asleep.

I’ve had an odd relationship with sleep for the past few years. I tend to do pretty well with it — I fall asleep easily. Then I stay asleep a good long while (usually eight or nine hours). I can frequently “program” myself to wake up at a time of my choosing (though not so reliably that I can give up my alarm clock). I can nap for fifteen or twenty minutes and wake up completely refreshed. For about 15 months, I was polyphasic, getting by on as little as three or four hours of sleep per day.

However, I don’t do much work with my dreams — I’m not a lucid dreamer, and usually the meanings of my dreams are pretty mundane. I get a lot more out of meditation.

Nevertheless I had been wondering about the Dream Master for a while, off and on, before it occurred to me that I could try to meet him in “person”.

Read more