Last week we attended a talk at Greenwood Cemetery about the Egyptians by the Brooklyn Museum of Arts curator, Egyptologist Edward Bleiberg. I was fascinated to hear how the affluent were able to install tombs laden with riches and items to ensure a safe passage into the netherworld. The process of mid to low range earners creativity to do the same was even more compelling.
This is a short post, not discussing all those wonderful details, but about something else- totally related to the dead of those and other times. The talk was given in the evening during those in-between times I like to write about and experience. The times when the veils are more permeable for communication for those in both worlds.
We watched as the evening darkened. While the speaker shared in a low lit room, we felt the presence of the dead become more and more palpable. When we exited into the twilight, the air was stirred by a gentle breeze. By the time we entered the car I knew we weren’t alone.
As soon as I arrived home I smudged with pungent sage. The feeling of being accompanied by a different energy lasted throughout the following days. It was very strong. Lots of voices attempted contact but they were not clear enough for me to decipher.
This past Sunday we were elbow deep in suds as we scrubbed our doggies. The ancestors speak when they’re ready. They were finally ready or maybe they felt I was ready to listen. They gave me their simple message. Please don’t forget us. They wanted me to share it with you too.
I’m the first to say that I don’t forget my dead. I pray, I light candles, and carefully tend to my altar. One thing I heard at the talk that was different was that the Egyptologist spoke about families having picnics at the tomb sites. Truly celebrating their dead. Interesting, isn’t it?
It makes me wonder about what other ways I can commune with the dead. Seances, Misas, meditation, and the like, for sure. Maybe a trip to my family’s burial site with a full picnic basket and blanket is next in order. I’ll let you know. You can let us know by writing a comment too.
I’ve heard individuals ask about creating a personal altar. They question whether they could build an altar to a deity or spirit. Of course one can. An altar can be created that pays strict homage to one’s deceased ancestors. The operative word is your when it comes to creating your altar.
There are no rights or wrongs to creating your personal altar. Some of us may have a cleared table with a candle or a couple of pictures of deceased relatives along with a small bouquet of fresh flowers on it. Others of us may have a low to the ground table with a small statue of Ganesh sitting on it. Maybe you found a special stone, crystal, or shell at the beach that you’d like to place on your altar. How you create your altar is dependent on your beliefs and your tradition.
Remember that your altar is yours. There’s no competition with who you might perceive to be more spiritual than you. While you may share notes in developing your altar, no one gets to the head of this class.
My first altar was an end table upon which I placed a candle and a wooden flute for a Native spirit who loves melodious music. It stayed that way for a long while as I got to know myself while listening to elders. As I began blooming spiritually, it grew. Right now it’s like a delicious smorgasbord for prayer.
I’m cautionary about taking pictures of my altar and placing them on social media. I just can’t see the value in advertising personal sacred items on the internet. I’m also a pretty private person about my spiritual life.
Finally, I suggest you listen to your heart space as you create your personal altar. Look around you and see what valued keepsakes you may already have in possession that have been waiting for a place on your altar.
This post has been inspired by the multitude of questions and answers I’ve read on social media. People enter social forums in certain traditions questioning whether they are allowed to build an altar for a particular deity. Others then offer their strong opinions on whether or not the individual is allowed to erect these sacred spaces. I’m usually horrified about the responses. I truly believe that the creation of a sacred space is between a person and their Higher Power. What I realized that before addressing the creation of an altar or shrine we should rather focus on creating our sacred spaces that may be our inner and/or outer dwellings.
It’s likely the questions about altars are posed because of an uncertainty about the relationship one has with one’s own Power Greater than Oneself. I like to think that one slowly grows this relationship and while it can be helpful sharing thoughts with others that learning to trust our intuition and not worry so much about being right or wrong or about what others think about this profound aspect of ourselves.
Spend time in that empty space. Let it envelope you in it’s warmth and love. Meditate in it. In meditation we are afforded insights into where we’ve been, where we are, and where we are moving. Meditation is most valuable when you do what’s right for you. It may be sitting for a few minutes with eyes closed or ambling down a wooded path. Just as in creating our sacred space, we ultimately decide which type of meditation works best for us.
I work in a women’s shelter and understand the potential real challenges of creating a personal space. Whether it’s sharing a dorm with eight women or living in a crowded space with a spouse and children, the difficulties can be very real. After having a space that I used for prayer and meditation turned into a bedroom for a year for my father who’d been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease I personally understand how hard it can be. I had to become creative.
Walking my dogs before sunrise while praying became my ‘go to’ sacred space. Running was my meditation. I cried about losing my sacred space until I realized I carried it within. It didn’t happen overnight. The struggle had been real. I had to work it out with my Higher Power and eventually found peace.
One of the earlier spiritual elders I learned from suggested that I find a small space to work with. I still had teenagers at home and space was at a minimum. I found that space and created my first altar in my living room. Let’s talk about creating that space next week. In the meantime, let’s work on that interior dwelling.
A pertinent reading to the construction of one’s inner sacred space is St. Teresa of Avila’s TheInterior Castle. It’s one possession I keep that reminds of my inner path work.
I took swimming lessons at the YWCA the summer that I completed the fourth grade, the summer that my sister died. Treading, from afar on the tiled deck, seemed almost relaxing. The counselor had on her swim cap, with the elastic strap and fastener held under her chin. She invited us in almost lazily with a large smile on her face. I couldn’t tell from my angle that her legs were moving furiously under the water. I was tested a couple of weeks later. I timed in for a full thirty seconds. Treading water was something that has always remained a challenge for me. I can float and swim both on my belly and on my back at a decent rate. Treading water seemed synonymous with how I walked on the earth back them. Everything seemed hard.
I haven’t written since January 20. Shortly after that date we’d received the call from the hospice nurse that my Dad was declining. By the 25th, she suggested that we call family for last good-byes. He was moving quickly into his transition. We sat with him for the next three days. We prayed. All of us. Family members wove in and out of the room. He knew us. He gave a little wave of his hand whenever we were in his vision. He crossed over on the twenty-eighth of January. I feel as though I’ve been treading water since then.
There’s usually a check list in my head at all times. It’s part of my monkey-brain. I jump from one thing to the next, making sure that everything is okay. The check list has changed from making sure my dad’s needs were met, to funeral arrangements, and business calls, to now. My check list has turned to re-checking. Was I there enough for him? Did I do the best for him? Was he comfortable? Mostly, was I fully present as his daughter? My head tells me yes. My heart has tricked me a couple of times into feeling I could have done more. My head reminds me that I did the best I could for the man, who at all the stops of life, did the best he could for me. We were a great team.
Last night I woke up thinking that a big part of my life is gone. Duh! Of course, it is. Yesterday, I had a short meditation and there he was walking toward me readying for a game of dominoes. This is a process, not an event. At some point, I’d placed a picture of The Never-Ending Story on my Facebook page. The quote is “Nothing is lost… everything is transformed.” I will see how that will manifest in my life. I feel him. I see him. Our love continues. He is with Mom, my sister, and his parents and siblings again. I’ve been blessed to have him all of these years.
I’ve the deep desire to go to the beach. I know that I can feel him there too. We spent many afternoons there during the last couple of years. It’s too cold to jump in the water. I won’t tread furiously. I think this time I will let the ocean’s energy wash over me in the cold breeze. I will allow the healing to be a gentle process. I will just be.
After a day of watching television and relaxing with a run thrown in, I’m feeling a bit back to myself. I’m finally back to writing. Two and a half pages for my second Daisy novel to be exact. I don’t keep a word count. That’s a bit excessive for me. Daisy spoke to me and I was able to give her attention. She’s patient. And so are you. I’ve had a few people ask me at some recent events, when my next Daisy novel will be ready. Soon, guys. We’re working at it. She’s persistent and that’s one of her strengths. Today I received a call from the hospice chaplain for my Dad. We talked about my Dad’s needs and mine. It’s been a revelation to be on this journey and realize I truly have lots of help from many sources. To have the ability to tell the chaplain that I’m in a good spiritual place is a gift.
As I prepared to pull this week’s card from Graciella’s oracle deck, I thought about the positivity of the holiday week. I wondered what type of celebratory card that we’d pull. I smudged myself and the cards with a good dose of white sage. I felt Graciella’s energy merge with mine as I shuffled the deck and fanned the cards out on my desk. I felt excited about what I sure would be a pleasure filled concept. Together, we pulled the Treachery/Traición card. What! Treachery card! How dare Graciella! But so it is. I actually took a moment away from the card to deal with my disappointment in the card. But I’m over it now and ready to tackle Graciella’s message.
The text that is provided in the booklet says, Blinded by your own reflection, Self-will binds, Allow awareness to surge through your being, Refrain from self-betrayal. The Spanish translation is: Quedarse ciego con su propio reflejo, La obstinación ata, Permite que la concencia aumente a través de tu ser, abstenerse de la auto-traición.
What I take these words to mean, in this particular reading, is to not limit ourselves to our desires, wants, and perceived needs. There is a much bigger picture to consider. The image shows the gentleman tied up and hanging from a branch. Fairly innocuous as he’s held up by his coattails. His feet are reflected in the water. Where has he been? Where is he going? Where does he believe himself to be on his path? His hat floats below him. A hat such as this type is often symbolic of pride for many. Has he lost his head? We see Graciella sitting in a meditative pose at the side of the pond. The pond is clear and will show many things as long as Graciella or we are willing to look at what is below the surface. In her hand she holds a clear quartz crystal. What better tool is there to bring us clarity? To bring us to the light within.
The message of meditating to bring clarity to ourselves is apparent. But we can also, during this time of holiday celebration, are encouraged to not be shallow as the pond. We can allow our masculine and feminine sides to merge and be whole in spirit and mind. We are encouraged to reflect upon our reflections! Are we open to the simplicity in giving and receiving, such as a crystal point that channels energy both from ourselves to others and from others to ourselves? Be open. Be reflective. Let the joy of giving and receiving come to you without pre-conceived notions. The celebration may just be in that!
Happy holidays my loved ones! May you bask in joy and love!
I’m sitting with my Dad here at his Assisted Living facility that for him is also newly hospice. He just smiled at me as he listens to the fancy headphones that my spouse bought just for this purpose. Los Panchos. His favorite. He has enjoyed having two daughters again after losing my sister many years ago. Sometimes my Dad forgets my name but doesn’t forget Patricia’s name when she walks in the room. I finally have time to shed a few tears in the quiet of this room.
During his last hospitalization we decided there had been enough hauling him back and forth for treatments he wouldn’t have consented to if he didn’t have Alzheimer’s. The staff treats him exceptionally well here and I see their hearts through their actions and kindnesses. He can live out the remainder of his days here without being poked, prodded, and with the serenity that this time on earth should be for him.
This time of the solstice and the waxing full cold mean brings a time for reflection and stillness. It doesn’t matter what zodiac sign we happen to shine under. At my aunt’s recent funeral I read the words ‘a time to reap and a time to sow.’ This is the time to be quiet for us. A time to listen for what is important and to allow what is not to fall to the wayside. A time to remember all the good things that life has brought us. A time to let time standstill.
My Dad has been awfully good to me. Always. I’ve sat in his car reading comic books while he tooled around with the engine. I’ve listened to him sing and play guitar with his brothers and in the quiet of our living room. I’ve watched him get up at 4:30am for his daily labors for years without a complaint. My only complaint was that he was strict during my teenage years. I can smile about that now. He helped my children with anything they needed as he did me. He opened his arms to my spouse and played guitar with her.
My Dad is still here with me and I’m grateful. Last night I dreamt a dream that reminded me of my mother and her singing during my childhood. I recently had a meditation of my parents dressed to the nines. Toasting. She’ll be there for him when he crosses over. I feel relief and gratitude about that.
But for now I will allow my soul to be comforted in the time of the cold moon. We are not wanting. We are taken care of. I hope you feel that too.
I couldn’t let today go by without writing a few lines about Our Lady of Guadalupe. It’s Her feast day. Many are celebrating Her love, compassion, and kindness. It’s said that when She appeared to Juan Diego on the Hill of Tepeyac, She said, “Am I not here, I, who am your Mother?”
I attended Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Her feast day many years ago. My memory is one of being struck by the love of the people who surrounded Her iconic image. The procession of the devotees stirred my heart. This Mother holds a gentle presence in our house and a small depiction of Her image watches over our dining room table. The face of this Goddess tells me that no matter one may go through, that may seem unbearable, may be made tolerable with Her love and support. Being led to acceptance of life’s harsh realities has often changed me and spurred me on to much needed spiritual growth.
When my spouse and I traveled to Mexico City in 2001 and we saw Her shrine at the Basilica de Guadalupe, I truly felt Her energy suffuse me with love. When I read the words that were a message of hope to me, I knew that I would never be alone. I hope that you too can be filled with Our Lady’s message of love.
The notion of in-between times was so romantic to me when I first heard of them. I’d learned of the power of Spirit coming through at dawn and dusk. Those were the times to meditate and to slide through those slivers of space where I could experience more than my seeming regular world could afford me. I learned to scry water, to read cards, to listen with all of my senses and slowly built a foundation to always be in touch with Spirit.
This mid-morning, I find myself sitting at my computer. I am writing a few more pages in my slowly emerging second Daisy mystery novel. There’s a strong feeling of peace within my heart. I’ve placed all other things aside for this time. I’ve come to realize this is an in-between time too. We received the shipment of our boxes of personal belongings that we sent up from Puerto Rico as we prepared to place our house on the market. We opened them last night and pulled out pots, pans, and art work from Puerto Rican artisans that we cherished and enjoyed several times a year on our trips to the island. I placed a few pieces of art up on my wall and can now enjoy them every day of the year.
This in-between time is bittersweet. I loved my little house in Puerto Rico. This is a time of letting go but also a time of accepting new things into my life. As I wait for a call from the realtor, I pray that the family who is meant to have the house ambles through the serene neighborhood. That they may speak with one of the vecinos who were so helpful to me over the years. The ones who shared food with my Dad. The ones who helped fix the television for him when he started losing the ability to do the things that we take for granted. The ones who called me to tell me it was time to check on him and that the time he needed me more than he wanted had finally come.
This chasm of time is one for Spirit to come through. The feeling of serenity is strong in my office/spiritual space. It is strong within me. It reminds me of walking through the Camuy caves in Puerto Rico. The bats hung above us occasionally tittering. The rocks whispered secrets from our ancient ones. The waters trickled- gently guiding us- ensuring we wouldn’t skate on the slippery paths we tread. I am grateful for this time. I can accept the changes that life brings and anticipate the beautiful new days ahead. I can sit in this moment of time and listen as Spirit tells me that all is okay for today.
This week we welcome the Full Beaver Moon! It is the last full moon before the winter solstice takes place in December. This moon has also been referred to as the mourning moon and the frosty moon. This moon was deemed the Beaver Moon for the trappers who busily trapped beaver before the deep cold winter weather set in.
Moving toward the full moon is an auspicious time to set an intention and to work on the fruition of projects. Being called ‘an eager beaver’ was a positive label. Working tirelessly as the beaver who focuses on the job of building dams reminds us that when there is a job to be done. We can complete tasks more easily with the aide of our community. It’s easy to lose perspective and intention on self and our planned activities during this time of year.
it’s apropos that this year’s full moon is waxing on Thanksgiving. Many of us busy ourselves with meal preparation, early holiday shopping, and with the general bustle of stress at this time of year. For some the full moon magnifies all of this energy tenfold. Relax.
Being the busy beaver who builds dams and bridges and all else they do is hard work. Beavers, when feeling threatened, will bite with their long ever growing sharp teeth. When we bite we don’t feel good afterward.s. The person we’ve bitten hurts pretty darn hard too.
I’m not sure of the beaver’s capacity to retreat but we have the ability to say no mas or Calgon take me away! Take restful moments for yourself. A soothing bath, a massage from your honey or scheduled in advance at a spa can help. We can’t control everything and the belief we can adds to the stress. Do something that will bring tranquility into your life. It’s your holiday too. Enjoy it!
We just returned from a Mexican restaurant, LaFrontera, here in Puerto Rico. The food was delicious and the service very nice. We sat outdoors and enjoyed this beautiful clear 75 degree weather. Last evening we ate at ElSarten Criollo where I usually eat mofongo. But last night I ate asopao de pollo. Chicken soup with broth that’s to die for with rice that’s perfectly cooked. It’s with a full and happy belly that I pulled a card with Graciella.
Tonight I didn’t smudge, but was sure to center and join with Graciella’s energy as I especially asked that the message I channel would be a general one for all for this week. I’ve been focused on the packing here in Puerto Rico as I’ve just placed my house on the market and didn’t want any mix-ups.
Together we shuffled, fanned the oracle cards, out and pulled the Changes/Cambios card. This card tells us to be mindful of things, activities, and situations that will change. Keep the idea of quickness in mind. There’s no time to dwell or ruminate on our desires or wants. Be ready to jump into action..
This card brings forth sweetness such as the sugar I see falling out of the canister. In this particular read I also see a sliver of gold. Something that might have been lost shows up again.
This reading foretells that something good is coming. Be ready for it. Be sharp and on the lookout. It may entail family or loved ones. This may be your week!